The year 2000 World
Radiocommunication Conference was also an important one for the satellite industry, which continues to experience strong growth in spite of setbacks in the development of Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite services, thanks to vigorous demand for subscription broadcasting, emerging opportunities in developing markets, and the potential for delivery of new kinds of interactive communication services.
Private sector plans to deploy new non-geostationary satellite constellations to deliver voice telephony and broadband data services, along with a new wave of traditional “geostationary” satellite deployments geared to steadily rising demand for Pay TV, future interactive entertainment services, high-speed Internet and corporate networking, necessitated the development of technical sharing arrangements to ensure neither type of satellite system would cause harmful interference to the smooth functioning of the other. Despite much wrangling, WRC-2000 was ultimately successful in
arriving at globally-agreed power limits that effectively give the green light to future development of exciting new services delivered over both geostationary and non-geostationary satellite networks.
The daunting task of replanning the Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS), which provides broadcasting services such as direct-to-home TV, was also successfully undertaken by WRC-2000, resulting in capacity increases to the equivalent of 10 analogue broadcast channels in Europe and Africa and 12 analogue channels across Asia and Australasia. This new plan will not only increase consumer choice, but paves the way for future delivery of interactive multimedia services over satellite.
WRC-2000’s additional allocations to the radionavigation satellite service, meanwhile, will underpin development of the proposed new European global positioning system, Galileo. This EUR 3 billion 30-satellite constellation will complement the existing Russian GLONASS and US GPS systems, and is scheduled to commence pilot operation in 2004. The additional spectrum allocations will also make it possible for GLONASS and GPS to develop their own second-generation systems.
Finally, agreement on the need for “quiet zones” in the radio spectrum will help further scientific research, particularly in the field of radio astronomy. With faint radio emissions from deep space increasingly being drowned out by a cacophony of signals from new radio-based services such as pagers, mobile phones, satellite telephony and broadcasting, WRC-2000 agreed on new allocations for science services across a range of bands, and authorized the experimental use of unallocated spectrum above 275 GHz for space research and Earth-satellite exploration.
The implications of new developments in satellite technology for ITU standards is handled by the Intersector Coordination Group on satellites (ICG), led by Study Group 13 of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T SG 13). The Group’s activities over the course of the year related mainly to harmonization of satellite system operation in areas such as IP over satellite, interworking of GMPCS and public networks, satellite terminal portability and convergence.
Satellite and Terrestrial System Filings
Within the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau (BR), the number of requests for new or modified satellite network filings continued to grow, as did the backlog of network coordination requests. At the end of 2000, BR reported 1 410 satellite coordination requests outstanding, compared with 1 352 requests still unfulfilled at the end of 1999. While some of this growth is undoubtedly due to increased demand for satellite-based services, much is nonetheless believed to result from so-called “paper satellites”, a long-standing problem involving the filing of non-existent systems to secure orbital slots for lease, resale or as a “reserve” for potential future applications. In 2000, the already considerable processing backlog was exacerbated by the need to review all satellite systems currently in place as part of the replanning of the Broadcast Satellite Service undertaken by WRC-2000. While introduction of new software and increased use of computing resources did improve the efficiency of coordination request processing over the course of the year, these improvements were not sufficient to keep pace with the growing backlog. In 1998, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference decided to introduce cost-recovery measures designed to discourage frivolous filing for unnecessary slots, while at the same time providing the resources needed to better serve heavy users through a faster, more responsive process. Following discussions at WRC-2000, this decision looks likely to be further strengthened through automatic cancellation of filings in the event of non-payment of filing charges. A final decision on this matter is expected to be taken by the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2002. In the field of terrestrial system filings, the delayed introduction of new software tools for the processing of terrestrial assignments due to late delivery of some components resulted in a slight backlog. Using existing tools, the Radiocommunication Bureau nonetheless processed 26 149 notifications for frequency assignments, of which 915 covered assignments under Article 11 of the Radio Regulations, a further 3 572, modifications under regional agreements, and 21 662, notices covering other regulatory provisions.