Main results of WRC-2000 (Istanbul, Turkey, 8 May-2 June 2000)
The WRC 2000 was hailed as a success because of its ability
to come to grips with key and ever more complex issues particularly as the rapid
growth of radio-based systems and their increasing globalization makes it ever
more difficult to share in a limited resource: the radio frequency spectrum. The
results will provide the conditions for the industry to develop and deploy a
host of sophisticated new radio-based communications systems over the next few
The WRC is the international forum where Member States come
together to revise an international treaty – the Radio Regulations, which
contain not only allocations to over 40 radiocommunication services but also
provide the technical, operational and regulatory conditions for the use of the
radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. It is held every two to three
years with the purpose of reaching consensus on changes in the Regulations. Some
landmark decisions were made at WRC-2000.
2. Additional spectrum for IMT-2000 third generation mobile
With third generation (3G) mobile systems based on ITU’s
IMT-2000 standard due to come into service very soon in several countries, it
was very important to increase available spectrum for 3G services. The existing
spectrum identified in 1992 on which licensing is currently taking place around
the world, was based on a model where voice services were considered to be the
major source of traffic, and only low data rate services were additionally
The extra spectrum needed was based on three main
considerations: the number of users which is expected to reach an estimated 2
billion mobile users worldwide by 2010 and the rapid growth of mobile data
services, mobile e-commerce, wireless internet access and mobile video-based
services and the need to secure common spectrum worldwide for global roaming and
New bands were to be considered to satisfy the forecast needs
over and above the existing spectrum available and in addition to the spectrum
used for first and second-generation mobile systems.
While a global common spectrum was generally supported,
countries supported different bands in order to protect existing services such
as analogue and digital TV, digital audio broadcasting, aeronautical
radionavigation service, meteorological radars, fixed wireless access and more.
A lack of consensus may not have prevented countries from making mobile spectrum
available for IMT-2000 on a national basis, but this would have resulted in
higher handset prices for third generation systems because of the need to
incorporate more complex circuitry to support international roaming across a
large number of frequency bands.
The decision provides for three common bands, available on a
global basis for countries wishing to implement the terrestrial component of
IMT-2000. The agreement provides for a high degree of flexibility to allow
operators to evolve towards IMT-2000 according to market and other national
considerations. Making use of existing mobile and mobile-satellite frequency
allocations, it does not preclude the use of these bands for other types of
applications or by other services to which these bands are allocated – a key
factor that enabled the consensus to be reached. While the decision of the
Conference globally provides for the immediate licensing and manufacturing of
IMT-2000 in the common bands, each country will decide on the timing of
availability at the national level according to need. This high degree of
flexibility will also enable countries to select those parts of the bands where
sharing with existing services is the most suitable, taking account of existing
The agreement effectively gives a green light to mobile
industry worldwide in deploying confidently IMT-2000 networks and services and
provides a stable basis for investors in the industry.
The three bands identified for use by IMT-2000 include one
below 1 GHz, another at 1.7 GHz where most of the second-generation systems
currently operate to facilitate the evolution, over time, of these systems to
third generation, and a third band in the 2.5 GHz range. These complement the
band in the 2 GHz range already identified for IMT-2000.
Moreover, the Conference identified the use of additional
frequency bands for the satellite component of IMT-2000. This will afford an
opportunity for satellite systems in these bands to provide IMT-2000 services.
Spectrum for the terrestrial component of IMT-2000
Frequency bands for satellite component of IMT-2000 (COM5/26)
Use of High-Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) for IMT-2000 (COM5/13)
Sharing Between Non Geostationary-Satellite Orbit satellites
(NGSO) and Geostationary-Satellite Orbit Satellites (GSO)
Intense private sector interest in the potential of satellite
systems to deliver mobile voice and broadband data services has resulted in a
large number of proposed new systems and services from non-geostationary
satellites. A number of these new non-GSO systems, soon to be deployed, and the
new wave of GSO networks aim at providing high speed local access to global
broadband communications services such as high speed Internet, corporate
intranets/extranets, e-commerce, videoconferencing and interactive services.
In 1997, frequency spectrum was made available for the first
time to enable the operation of the new non-GSO systems. At the time, it was
decided to establish provisional power limits for the operation of these
non-geostationary systems so that they could share the frequencies with
geostationary networks. In the period between WRC-1997 and WRC-2000, studies
were conducted to determine whether those limits were suitable for sharing.
Despite the results of those studies which seem favourable to
the concept of shared use of the bands in question by non-GSO fixed-satellite
service systems and GSO networks of the fixed satellite service and the
broadcasting-satellite service, this was one of the most important and difficult
issues of the Conference.
The difficulty was to balance the need to protect GSO
networks while allowing new non-GSO systems to operate without undue
constraints. The decisions of the Conference include some limits on earth
stations of GSO networks and power limits on non-GSO systems to enable their
co-existence without unacceptable interference. These power limits provide a
quantitative measure of what is unacceptable. The limits on non-GSO FSS also
protect terrestrial and broadcasting-satellite systems operating in the same
bands. It also agreed on the regulatory provisions for frequency sharing in the
Ku band (10-18 GHz).
Re-Planning of the Broadcasting-Satellite Service For
Regions 1 & 3
The Broadcasting-Satellite Service provides satellite
television broadcasting including direct-to-home. Under the plan adopted by
WRC-97 for Regions 1 and 3 (i.e. everywhere other than the Americas) which
has roots back to 1977, each country was generally given the possibility to make
use of five analogue channels on the basis of one beam for national coverage. A
number of factors contributed to making the situation unworkable today. They
ranged from the rapid development of satellite systems, the use of digital
technologies which facilitated the deployment of new regional systems that can
target many countries from a single satellite to the advent of new services like
Pay TV wanting to extend broadcasting capabilities across as wide an area as
possible. In addition, for small countries or for countries with a small
population, the use of that capacity restricted to national use often proved to
be uneconomical. Also, the emergence of new countries wishing to take up their
five channels put more pressure to seek more spectrum.
Although the Plan had become outdated, the idea of
re-planning was however not unanimously supported until the start of the
Conference. For some, the approach of apportioning spectrum on a
country-by-country, rather than on a first come, first served basis was
considered wasteful since many countries may never launch their own national
broadcast satellite system. The result is that spectrum is effectively kept in
abeyance and cannot be used for any other purpose. For others, they wanted to
secure the opportunity to be able to use that spectrum when they so wish and not
be faced with a blockage when time comes.
Re-planning is a very complex matter with many inter-related
aspects, and in particular, the level of constraints imposed for the protection
of existing and future assignments in both space and terrestrial services, the
allocations to which are different in the different regions of the world. In
addition to the technical challenges, the question of BSS re-planning has
implications which touched on issues of national sovereignty.
Against this background and against all odds, major
differences of approach were ironed out on the eve of the conference and BSS
re-planning was agreed by the Conference.
One of the key decisions of WRC-2000 has been to increase the
capacity for each country to an equivalent of 10 analogue channels in Europe and
Africa and to 12 analogue channels in Asia and Australasia. With the uptake of
direct satellite broadcasting in both regions as well as the potential for the
future delivery of multimedia services, the decisions of WRC-2000 provide the
capacity to meet the current and prospective demand.
In order to ensure full protection of existing and future
terrestrial and space services and systems, the Conference requested that an
analysis of the new Plan be carried out with respect to compatibility with other
services co-sharing on a primary basis so that WRC-2003 can review the power
limits that have been agreed upon at this Conference.
Global Satellite Positioning Systems
WRC-2000 provided additional allocations for the
radionavigation-satellite service. The additional spectrum makes it possible for
the two current systems Russia’s GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System)
and the US Global Positioning System (GPS) to develop into second-generation
systems while providing room for Europe’s new system – Galileo.
Highly accurate satellite positioning data is becoming
increasingly important for a wide range of activities, from navigation on land,
in the air, at sea and in outer space to national security to new
consumer-oriented position determination applications. There are over eight
million Radionavigation-Satellite Service (RNSS) receivers in use today in a
wide range of consumer applications such as navigation aids in cars, handheld
position location devices like street finders, positioning in sports activity
(sailing, mountain trekking, expeditions), location of lost persons in rescue
operations or business applications including safety-of-life such as air traffic
control, fleet tracking, ships and aircraft positioning.
As businesses and consumers alike become more dependent on
global positioning in their daily lives, the new allocations were needed to
ensure that the services these satellite systems provide would be feasible in
the future. The annual market is worth billions of dollars, and is set to give
rise to over hundreds of thousands of direct jobs in coming years.
The difficulty was to agree on allocations in new bands that
would not pose sharing problems for the two current systems, GPS and GLONASS,
nor to radionavigation systems that provide a safety-critical mission to civil
aviation and ships at sea.
By enabling the deployment of a new comer and the system
upgrades of current global position systems, the allocations made at WRC-2000
adds competitiveness into a highly lucrative market which is good news to users.
The entry into force of these new allocations is effective 3 June 2000.
Quiet zones for Radioastronomy
With the growing demand for radiocommunication-based services
and the resulting deluge of radio signals from cellular phones, pagers,
satellite systems and more, there were concerns about interference with radio
astronomy and other deep-space research services which are seeking "quiet
zones" in the spectrum.
The biggest problems were in the areas of passive monitoring,
such as that used by the world’s largest radiotelescopes to detect extremely
weak celestial sources of radio activity, which are susceptible to interference
from active users such as mobile telephony.
From the point of view of passive space research, the signal
strength from a cellular phone is huge – so high, in fact, that making a
standard cellular phone call from the surface of the moon would register on a
radiotelescope as the third most powerful source of radio activity in the
universe. With unwanted emissions from other services threatening to blot out
incoming cosmic signals through which astronomers and others learn about our
world and the universe around us, radio astronomers had been actively seeking
better protection for vital research.
At WRC-2000, a number of measures have been adopted to better
protect the radio astronomy and other scientific services in a range of
frequency bands in which other services are also operating. The Conference also
provided new allocations in several bands of the spectrum that should help meet
the concerns of the radio astronomers. Finally, the Conference authorized the
use of spectrum above 275 GHz, which is not yet allocated, for experimental
purposes by various active and passive services, and in particular for radio
astronomy, earth-satellite exploration and space research.
High-density fixed systems
High density fixed services (HDFS) cover new wireless
point-to-point and point-to-multipoint technologies ranging from Fixed Wireless
Access (FWA) to high-speed broadband wireless systems such as Local Multipoint
Distribution Service (LMDS). Through their ability to provide cost-effective,
reliable metropolitan links, HDFS seem certain to play a growing role in a wide
range of applications, from broadband access for business customers to low-cost
facilities monitoring of remote sites. The development of high-density fixed
services is also seen as key to overcoming the risk of a local-loop bottleneck
for broadband services.
In developing countries, it is a particularly promising
technology for bridging the access gap because of the ease of installation and
potentially lower costs. FWA enables the connection of users to the telecoms
network without having to construct a landline network – a lengthy and costly
process. Because it can be rapidly deployed in areas where infrastructure is
poor or non-existent particularly in densely populated areas, it is viewed as a
way to meet rapidly the pent-up demand.
They can also potentially accommodate new telecoms operators
in aiming to gain market access in competitive environments by providing
alternate technologies for upgrade of existing telephone infrastructure or for
greater access and service choice for data and multimedia services. They are
also expected to be widely used for a range of remote monitoring, cutting costs
on the current way of sending staff to subscribers’ premises to read gas or
electricity meters for invoicing.
There has been wide support from WRC-2000 participants to
provide spectrum for HDFS in bands between 30-60 GHz. The difficulty has been on
agreeing on rules governing the shared used of frequency bands with other
existing and future services operating in the same bands and in particular with
the geostationary and non-geostationary fixed satellite service and with the
radio astronomy service.
The allocations made to the High-Density Fixed Service cover
a range of 6.5 GHz of spectrum and nine different services. In addition to
allocations, the conference also agreed on the regulatory provisions applicable
to the deployment of HDFS as well as power limits to protect HDFS from other
space services allocated to the same bands or to adjacent bands. These worldwide
allocations should help decrease the cost of equipment through greater economies
Administrative due diligence
The question of evaluating the administrative due diligence
procedure ended with the adoption of temporary measures to improve satellite
filing procedures in a bid to reduce the backlog in processing which represents
three years and which affects mostly coordination requests.
One of the negative impact of such backlog is that countries
can be faced with a reduced time window in which to accomplish coordination
given the five-year limit to place a network into operation.
Introduced in November 1997 by WRC-97, administrative due
diligence is a procedure that aims at minimizing the number of paper satellites
by requiring information which becomes available when systems have reached an
advanced stage of development and are soon to be deployed. This procedure
requires disclosure of implementation data for satellite systems such as the
identity of the the satellite network, the name of the operator, name of the
satellite, the name of the space manufacturer for each satellite, the date of
execution of the contract, contractual "delivery window", number of
satellites procured, name of the launch vehicle provider, date of execution of
the contract, a launch or in-orbit delivery window and the name of the launch
Because countries have generally requested extension of the
regulatory period for bringing their satellites into use up to the maximum limit
authorized by the Radio Regulations, it is not until the end of 2003 that the
effect of administrative due diligence is likely to be fully apparent. This
means that several years may be needed to see whether the procedure yields
satisfactory results. Proposals by some countries to introduce financial due
diligence to deter what they called "frivolous filings" failed to
garner support as it was considered premature, the administrative due diligence
not having been put to test.
After a long-drawn out debate, the Conference concluded that
further experience was needed in the application of this procedure before any
sound judgement could be made on its impact and effectiveness in reducing, if
not eliminating, paper satellites.
The administrative due diligence procedure will therefore
continue and a report on the analysis of its impact will be submitted to the
2002 Plenipotentiary Conference to take appropriate action.
In the meantime, WRC-2000 concluded that measures were
nonetheless needed to prevent the increase of the backlog in processing
satellite network filings if not reducing it. This was considered justified on
account that the continued viability and credibility of the ITU satellite
coordination process was at stake as the current situation seriously compromised
the ability of several networks to provide services.
One of the measures is to allow the analysis of the uplink
and downlink filings to be performed separately. Another include the mandatory
electronic submission of data for the advance publication, coordination and
notification of all satellite networks, radio astronomy notices and due
diligence information. Countries will also be encouraged to submit all graphical
data associated with the submissions electronically – although paper
submissions will continue to be accepted. As from 3 September 2000, forms that
are not submitted electronically will be considered as incomplete and returned
without being processed. The same will apply to data submitted on paper from now
until 3 September and that will not have been resubmitted electronically by 3
October 2000. Developing countries making no more than three filings a year will
however be able to continue to submit filings on paper until 3 June 2001.
Cost-recovery for satellite filings
WRC-2000 discussed one aspect of the implementation of cost
recovery for processing satellite network filings with a view to considering
possible amendments to the Radio Regulations.
Following the policy decision taken at the 1998
Plenipotentiary Conference to introduce such charges, ITU’s annual governing
body – the ITU Council, had, at its 1999 session, agreed on the methodology
and fee schedules. These charges are applicable for filings (new network and
modification to existing networks) for which the advance publication information
was received after 7 November 1998.
At WRC-2000, discussions focused on possible regulatory
consequences of non-payment of such charges. Despite strong views expressed on
the possible cancellation of a filing in case of non-payment, the Conference
adopted a regulatory provision which will enter into force at a date to be
determined by the forthcoming Plenipotentiary Conference in 2002. The decision
to request the Plenipotentiary Conference to decide on the date of entry into
force was based on the views expressed by several countries that the rights and
obligations of Member States are defined in the Constitution and that any
modification of these rights, based on financial considerations, should be
decided by ITU’s top policy-making body.