World Radiocommunication Conference
Highlights WRC2000 Newsroom
8 May-2June

 Istanbul, 19 May 2000 N° 10
 18 May issue

22 May issue    

IMT-2000: building blocks painstakingly laid

    Working Group 5A decided to devote its Friday session to unresolved issues that were inhibiting progress in the drafting groups. The two areas of contention concerned the use of the terms "intended for", "available for" on the one hand, and "advanced communications applications" on the other (see WRC2000 Highlights of 18 May, under The step-by-step approach for IMT-2000 starts bearing fruit).

    The US insistence in using "advanced communications applications" was made on the ground that spectrum was not to be frozen for specific technology and that room was to be left for other technologies that could be implemented in these bands in the future. "Advanced communications applications do not constitute a new type of system, neither are they intended as a replacement for IMT-2000," said the US. "The wording recognizes that there will be uses in the identified spectrum that develops in response to market demands and technological advances that could be other than IMT-2000 tomorrow".

    For Europe, it was clear that IMT-2000 and the technologies it uses would evolve and that it was therefore important not to apply restrictions to its evolution in those bands. "Todate, the only one system defined internationally is IMT-2000". Including a notion such as "advanced communications applications" that was not defined anywhere was considered to be a dangerous precedent that could not be accepted.

    When debating flexibility, it had been clearly stated that use of bands was not restricted to any technology. Each country’s free choice was to be preserved. Many countries felt that these considerations could be better addressed in a Resolution and that regulatory texts had to be carefully drafted given its binding character. Recalling that the band was not allocated to IMT-2000 but that its use was identified for IMT-2000, all systems operating in conformity with the allocations could use whatever technology deemed appropriate and no restrictions were to be applied. It was also recalled that delegations had made calculations for the identification of the bands on the characteristics of IMT-2000 and not other advanced communications applications and, therefore, it was not appropriate to tag concepts that did not enjoy international recognition.

    Another delegate stressed that a clear statement could be included to the effect that "the use of the bands did not preclude their use by other services to which it is allocated and did not establish priority of usage within these bands". "Although difficult to agree, this text would provide all the flexibility needed to introduce systems or applications of advanced communications. There was no way that delegate’s country would accept to include any concept other than IMT-2000 in regulatory text relating to the bands to be identified for IMT-2000.

    An overwhelming majority considered that the text of the Resolution being developed would reflect the fact that countries would in no way be constrained on how they wish to implement IMT-2000 and that the flexibility which US sought to gain could be enshrined in the Resolution being developed. Many considered this option more suitable than a footnote that had treaty status like any provision of the Radio Regulations as stated in Resolution 26.

    Despite the overwhelming objection to the introduction of "advanced communications applications", no consensus emerged but a sign of compromise became evident when it was agreed that with the useful comments made, a suitable text could be developed. It was decided to return the text to the drafting group in a bid to find acceptable wording.

Non-GSO/GSO FSS sharing

    Discussion on sharing between non-GSO and GSO FSS hit another stumbling block on Friday. The problem comes as a result of the two opposing approaches between CITEL and European countries. The Conference Preparatory Meeting had offered a number of options on how the co-existence of non-GSO and GSO FSS could be achieved.

    Before WRC-97, the Ku band was used only by GSO satellites, many of which provide customer services such as direct-to-home television. In recent years, satellite operators viewed the possibility to capitalize on the availability at customers premises of small antennas by offering multimedia applications. In the mid-1990s, non-GSO satellite projects developed in the same bands, prompting the GSO community to claim protection from those non-GSO satellites. Article S22 of the Radio Regulations was adopted to achieve this protection. At the time, non-GSO satellites were bound not to cause harmful interference to GSO satellites. There was however no objective values to determine what was considered harmful interference. In 1997, the non-GSO community fought hard to include pfd limits so that non-GSO satellites would have agreed benchmarks to measure the required protection of GSO networks. These values which had been adopted by WRC-97 after one of the most contentious debates of the Conference, were embodied in Resolution 130 for non-GSO/GSO FSS sharing. The pfd limits were however agreed on a provisional basis and WRC-2000 was asked to review these limits.

    At this conference, where the provisional power limits were to be reviewed, the debate reopened.

    Two approaches emerged: one to continue the provisions of the Resolution which impose constraints on GSO satellites by way of off-axis limits as well as a no-protection claim by non-GSO networks. The other approach, quite different would be to suppress both regulatory provisions so that neither side would gain the benefits nor suffer the disadvantages.

    For European countries, either option was considered acceptable. If the constraints imposed on the GSO were removed, non-GSO should be able to claim protection and vice-versa. For CITEL countries, however, there was no linkage between the two provisions.

    In light of continuing disagreement, it was decided to set up an informal group of interested parties to attempt to bridge the differences and present a consensual text to the Working Group. The text would include the two options – keep all or delete all, to make sure the consequences of these two approaches were clearly expressed before making a decision.

    As the issues of Resolution 130 are also linked to what some referred to as the "regulatory enforcement" of S15, it was decided to exchange views on S15 (dealing with interference and the procedure to follow in case of harmful interference). It was also accepted that any agreement reached on either Resolution 130, Articles S15 and S13 would be conditional to an agreement being made on all three as a package.

    On Article S15, the problem was raised by European countries which opposed the adoption of a procedure that would include only "unacceptable" interference caused by non-GSO systems. This was viewed as being discriminatory because, in practice, the provisions of article S15 could not apply to cases of unacceptable interference as they refer only to "harmful" interference. Such cases of unacceptable interference occur for example when two countries are not respecting mutual agreements, whether intentionally or not. They viewed the need to adopt a Resolution to broaden the scope of applications so that any type of network -GSO and non-GSO - could benefit from a procedure that would enable countries to take action against unacceptable interference. In that case, they would agree to maintain the scope of S15 as currently drafted.

    Some signs of compromise were seen on the last proposal to keep S15 as it was and to deal with a review of the procedure by the next WRC by way of a Resolution. It was therefore decided to meet on Saturday to discuss a draft Resolution to be drafted by France and to consider a possible regulatory approach based on existing proposals.

Review of Resolutions and Recommendations

    Working Group 4B continued its review of Resolutions and Recommendations from previous conferences. A number of them were approved and will be reported upon when agreed in Committee 4.The conclusions on two of them are highlighted below.

    A number of administrations expressed concern over some of the proposed revisions to Resolution 51 dealing with the provisional applications of provisions of the Radio Regulations adopted at WRC-97. Firstly, the Working Group recalled that the review under Resolution 18 of the Plenipotentiary Conference (Kyoto, 1994) on paper satellites had resulted in the modification of a number of provisions dealing with advance publication, coordination and notification of assignments for satellite networks. It also noted that these measures were to be applied provisionally as from 22 November 1997 and that the previous conference decided to reduce the regulatory time-frame for bringing a satellite network into use, and to delete the advance publication information (API) if not followed by the coordination data within 24 months of the date of receipt of the API.

    While all delegations agree that the transitional measures in the current Resolution were necessary to enable the treatment of a number of satellite networks for which the relevant information had been communicated prior to the end of WRC-97, some of the revised text, if approved by this conference would have a retroactive impact on certain administrations and on the activities carried out by the ITU.

    At issue for the opponents of change was the new provision which stipulates that "for satellite networks for which the API has been received by the Bureau prior to 22 November 1997, the maximum allowed time period from the date of publication of the Special Section of the Weekly Circular (normally within three months) to bring the relevant frequency assignments into use shall be six years plus the extension prescribed in the 1994 version of the Radio Regulations.

    Despite several attempts to reach agreement on these revisions, views remain divided with delegations supporting the proposed changes arguing that the satellites notified earlier would be at a disadvantage. Countries of the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) further argued that retroactive actions in the ITU have always proved very beneficial, particularly for the developing countries, adding that regulations were not there to inhibit development but rather, to foster it.

    Delegations that advocated a status quo, maintained that a retroactive action would not only mean an additional backlog with serious financial implications, but would also have repercussions on their networks. Why does ITU want to change the rules of the game now? one delegation asked. As each conference has to take into account the financial implications of its decisions for ITU, it requested that the matter be sent to Committee 4.

    On the other hand, the Working Group agreed that transitional measures that may later be adopted by this conference should be contained in a new resolution separate from Resolution 51.

Allocations in bands around 1.4 GHz for non-GSO feeder links in the mobile-satellite service with service links operating below 1 GHz (Resolution 127)

    Revisions to this Resolution recognize a number of factors. Firstly, that the agenda of WRC-97 included consideration of the adoption of additional allocations for little LEOs. Secondly, as of 26 November 1999, twenty-five little LEOs networks were at some stage of coordination under Resolution 46, and that many of the proposed networks cannot be implemented in the existing allocations because there is not enough spectrum.

    The Resolution calls for continued studies for additional tests and demonstrations to validate the studies on operational and technical measures required to facilitate sharing in portions of the band 1390-1393 MHz between existing and currently planned services and feeder links (Earth-to-space) for non-GSO MSS systems with service links operating below 1 GHz and in portions of the band 1429-1432 MHz for the corresponding space-to-Earth.

    Similarly additional studies are required, including the measurement of emissions from equipment that would be employed in operational systems to protect passive services in the band 1400-1427 MHz from unwanted emissions from feeder links near 1.4 GHz for non-GSO MSS systems with service links operating below 1 GHz.

    The Resolution invites the next WRC to consider, based on the completion of these studies, additional allocations for feeder links on a worldwide basis for non-GSO MSS systems with service links below 1 GHz.


    Working Group 2 of the Plenary reported that work had started to compress to a manageable size the agenda items for WRC-03, taking account of the limited capacity of ITU secretariat to sustain the preparatory work in the next 2 to 3 years. For the first time, an informal committee involving regional groups was set up. This novel approach makes it possible to achieve some degree of priority-setting among countries of each region, thus facilitating a more equitable "compression" work as it reflects the importance put on items which may differ from region to region. It also gives a greater voice to all Members in defining the items proposed for the agenda of the next WRC.

    After a long debate on whether or not countries could add their names to footnotes, the Plenary ruled that such additions were in conformity with the Radio Regulations (Resolution 26). It confirmed the procedure agreed in 1997 according to which countries may add their names in a footnote provided that they are made by a given deadline and that there are no objections from any other country listed or not in the footnote in question. It was however reiterated that the text of a footnote could not be amended. The Plenary then set the deadline at 22 May, 12:00 Istanbul time.

    The Conference also reviewed and approved the list of systems included in the re-planning process. The list contains existing systems (i.e. brought into use or for which the date of bringing into use has been confirmed) and satellite systems for which the coordination procedures for filing a new system or for modifying an existing system have been successfully completed. It also approved all national preferences confirmed as of 12 May 2000, 2400 hours or requested as of 12 May 2000, 1700 hours.

In Brief

Following discussion on the special requirements of China to meet a very heavy demand and growth in both mobile and Internet, that country decided to include in the resolution-to-be on IMT-2000 the need to use the 2300-2400 MHz.

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