World Radiocommunication Conference
|Istanbul, 18 May 2000||N° 9|
|17 May issue|
The step-by-step approach for IMT-2000 starts bearing fruit
The step-by-step approach established by Working Group 5A where bands are considered on a broad front and provisional agreement is reached on each proposed band pending an overall consideration and endorsement of a package solution, is starting to yield concrete results despite several difficulties encountered along the way.
Consensus emerged, at the drafting group level, on a list of elements that could be used in a resolution on IMT-2000 and on the inclusion of the band 806-960 MHz in the proposed extension bands for IMT-2000 where a primary allocation to mobile services already exists. The text of a footnote was prepared but still carried some language where agreement had not been possible. Footnotes are, in effect, exceptions made to an agreed allocation (additional or different use made by some countries of that allocation). They are included in the Table of Frequency Allocations only when the exception has international implications.
The text, which contained the contentious words put in square brackets to express a lack of agreement, triggered a lengthy debate when presented to Working Group 5A. What is the issue? The problems lay in two sets of words: first was the clause "could be made available" instead of the language already used in the existing footnote "are intended for IMT-2000". This language was considered by a great majority of delegations as possibly weakening the global deployment of IMT-2000, preferring an affirmative statement in favour of the use of the band by IMT-2000. But those delegations supporting this language showed no sign of compromise. The other was the use of "IMT-2000 and other advanced mobile communication applications" instead of "IMT-2000". Several countries expressed concern and questioned the meaning of "advanced mobile communication applications" as nowhere in the ITU had this term been defined. The lack of an agreed international definition rendered the proposed wording inappropriate for inclusion in regulatory text of an international treaty that countries would be bound to apply. Those backing the inclusion of "advanced mobile communication applications" argued that it was important not to reserve spectrum for a given technology. Opponents, however, stressed that IMT-2000 was clearly not a single technology and had always been conceived as a continually evolving concept. Such wording was therefore unnecessary and undesirable in the context of regulatory texts.
While some delegations expressed the possibility of accepting the text, at this stage, to enable work to proceed, it was made clear that this would in no way preclude the discussion in the other groups that were considering other frequency bands. It was further stressed that this provisional acceptance would not prevent the debate from reopening when the text would be made available for each of the candidate bands. Some delegations simply opposed this move as it would only postpone the debate to another meeting while the proponents of the contested text also strongly opposed the view that the other bands could be treated differently. A lengthy debate ensued on the reason why all the bands should be treated in a similar manner as the problems inherent to each band were different and demanded different treatment. Despite the Chairperson’s ruling that there had been agreement that each delegation would have the opportunity to review all of the draft footnotes and resolution or resolutions once available so as to assess the impact on all the bands and that the equal treatment or not of all the bands would not be discussed until all such material would have been reviewed and the various attempts to find alternative wordings that could accommodate the concerns expressed including the use of the wording of the agenda item, the persisting differences of opinion compelled the Chairperson to stop the discussions. He expressed his disappointment that such a simple matter could not be resolved and requested the drafting group to reconsider the text with a view to resolving the issues before submitting a new text to Working Group 5A.
Band 2.29-2.3 GHz
A small portion of the 2.3 GHz band had been proposed by three countries for IMT-2000 use. It was agreed not to include it as a candidate band for IMT-2000 at this stage but keep it in abeyance until the overall exercise of identification had been concluded. Reasons for this course of action were based on the fact that:
Band 2.5 GHZ
In the discussions on the possible use of the 2.5 GHz band for IMT-2000, strong support and equally strong opposition were expressed but a number of countries showed considerable compromise in relation to their initial position to accommodate the views of others. Working Group 5A decided to set up a drafting group to consider together, as a package, the bands 1.7/1-8 GHz and 2.5 GHz. The group will also consider wording that would be appropriate for a footnote and for the resolution on IMT-2000.
A matter of footnotes
In anticipation of the outcome of the two drafting groups, the Chairperson proposed to leave aside the existing footnote S5.388 which identifies the core band for use by IMT-2000 as well as Resolution 212 on the implementation of IMT-2000 and consider only the bands to be identified by WRC-2000. Once the work of the drafting groups completed, Working Group 5A would revisit the existing footnote and resolution and decide whether it would be possible to agree on a totally generic footnote and whether the existing footnote should be amended. A long discussion followed between those agreeing with the proposed course of action, considering that the drafting groups should focus on the elements necessary to build the package and those who felt the footnote and resolution had to be considered at the same time as the new footnotes and resolution as they considered that all bands had to be treated in the same manner.
To keep the terms of reference of the drafting group manageable, if it was to succeed, the Chairperson decided to request the drafting group to concentrate on the new elements first, identify what would be appropriate for the 1.7/1.8 and 2.5 GHz bands and then have a debate on how the new identified elements could be incorporated in a single footnote. The actual integration with the existing footnote/resolution would however not be carried out by the drafting group as the decision on whether to merge the texts and how to proceed would be decided by Working Group 5A.
Band 2.7-2.9 GHz
Another point raised on Thursday, was the request made by China for a footnote to identify 2300-2400 MHz for use at national level. In China, mobile communications have developed very fast with a customer base of over 15 million for 2nd-generation systems. With a monthly growth of 2 to 3 million customers, China’s customer base would be 200 million by 2005. In addition, China’s Internet users were doubling every 6 months. The rate of development in in that country suggested that additional spectrum should be needed to meet such high demand. Many delegations argued that footnotes were meant for alternative allocations or additional allocations. In this case, the band 2300-2400 MHz was already allocated to mobile services and nothing prevented China from making use of it, in its country, for IMT-2000. It was suggested that the use of the band could be considered by the IMT-2000 group of experts in the context of their studies on channeling plans. Alternatively, China’s unique situation could be acknowledged in the text of the resolution on IMT-2000 that the Working Group would have to develop. In the meantime, the matter would be left in abeyance to enable China to consider the various options open to it to deal with the request.
Band 2.7-2.9 GHz
The identification of this band for IMT-2000 was not supported because it was used worldwide by airport surveillance, meteorological and other radionavigation radars for safety-critical operations. In addition it was not consistent with the key principles that had been agreed by Working Group 5A which stipulated that only bands already allocated to the mobile service should be considered as candidate bands. European countries stressed however that sharing studies could be invited for the possible use by IMT-2000 of this band if the 160 MHz of globally available spectrum could not be secured in other bands. It was finally decided to leave the matter pending as the evolution of the work could well supersede the need to come back to the issue.
Administrative due diligence: yet another episode…
Five proposals were made by one country in an attempt to improve the application of administrative due diligence for satellite filings required under Resolution 49 adopted by WRC-97. The proposals were based on the fact that the procedures established under Resolution 49 were "hedged with exceptions and transitional arrangements that had delayed the full effectiveness of the procedures to eliminate speculative filings". (See WRC2000 Highlights of 10 May, under Paper Satellites back in the limelightand of 11 May, under A move to make administrative due diligence more effective).
Noting that this delay would last another two to three years from now, depending on the circumstances of the original filing, that country felt that Resolution 49 should be reviewed to improve the effectiveness of administrative due diligence and adopt more rigorous time-scales to define the entire filing process from notification of a satellite nework to its bringing into use.
Besides the delay in application, a more fundamental criticism of the present due diligence procedure was that the ultimate sanction (the cancellation of a filing) was reserved to the end of the process, around the date of bringing into use of a satellite network.
The meeting considered that two of the five proposals could be considered in the review of Resolution 49.
The first one dealt with bringing forward the allowed time-limit to provide complete due diligence information in respect of networks in the coordination process, or networks recorded in the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR) but not yet brought into use. "This time limit would be set at six months before the date of bringing into use of a satellite network. Failure to provide the complete due diligence information would, as at present, result in the network being deleted from the process and no longer taken into account with respect to other coordination activities", the proposal said.
The other recommended the introduction of interim due diligence "milestones" to ensure effective progress in implementing satellite networks. Satellite filings that would not have made sufficient progress within the set time-scales would be placed in suspension or, if appropriate, cancelled.
However, many delegations firmly objected to these proposals. While there were possible advantages in requesting that the due diligence information be submitted at an early stage of the process, it was considered premature to change the Resolution at this conference due to the limited experience of the administrative due diligence process.
There was also a lack of support for the proposal to introduce interim due diligence "milestones". Some delegations were of the view that the proposed milestones could be applied at national level but that they should not be introduced in the ITU administrative due diligence procedure.
Additional allocations on worldwide basis for little LEOs
The discussions continued on the urgent need for additional spectrum for Little LEOs (MSS in bands below 1 GHz) and focused on the important maritime interests in the 4 MHz band, essentially the meteorological aids, and the COSPAS-SARSAT system used in an adjacent band. The COSPAS-SARSAT system is used to receive the distress alert signals at sea and is essential to the operation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. Several delegations also considered that the development and growth of the meteorological aids operations could not be ensured if MSS allocations were made in that band.
Moreover, current studies show that channel co-sharing between Little LEOs and meteorological aids is generally not feasible in the 4 MHz band and any sharing would require band segmentation. While it is agreed that new technologies to be used in meteorological aids will be more spectrum efficient, they will need room to grow.
Considering that the studies carried out remained inconclusive, it was agreed not to modify the constraints on existing allocations for the non-GSO MSS below 1 GHz. However, in light of the urgent need for additional spectrum to allow development of all the systems already filed, continuation of studies by way of modification to two resolutions was therefore endorsed. Resolution 214 on sharing with other services operating in bands below 1 GHz, including appropriate interference mitigation techniques that would facilitate sharing. The other resolution focuses on sharing specifically with meteorological aids systems in the band 405-406 MHz and the impact it could have on services in adjacent bands.
Technical cooperation with developing countries
Working Group 4B approved the revision of two Resolutions dealing with technical cooperation with developing countries.
One addresses the study of propagation in tropical areas. In particular, the Resolution calls on ITU to offer assistance to developing countries in the tropical areas which endeavour to carry out national propagation studies in a bid to improve and develop their radiocommunications and to arrange for funds and resources to this end (Resolution 5). The other calls on ITU to encourage the Internatinal Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to continue its assistance to developing countries which are endeavouring to improve their aeronautical telecommunications. In particular, it seeks to provide developing countries with technical advice for the planning, establishment, operation and maintenance of equipment, as well as help with the training of staff, essentially in matters relating to new technologies (Resolution 20).
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