World Radiocommunication Conference
Highlights WRC2000 Newsroom
8 May-2June

 Istanbul, 23-24 May 2000 Nį 12
 22 May issue

25 May issue    

Non-GSO/GSO sharing: the compromise unravels

    Against the keep-all or delete all options that had been proposed for dealing with the sharing of non-GSO systems and GSO networks, a majority view has emerged in favour of keeping the two types of limits: off-axis limits on GSO earth stations and power limits on non-GSO. The meeting had before it a text that included the the two options (See WRC2000 Highlights of 19 May, under non-GSO/GSO FSS sharing), The off-axis limits had been introduced by WRC-97 as part of the package agreement but had been immediately suspended until WRC-2000. The power limits had been introduced on a provisional basis until their review by WRC-2000.

    It was agreed, at the Working Group level, to suppress the two Resolutions (130 and 538) that provided the applicable sharing criteria and power limits and to integrate in the Radio Regulations the relevant provisions. This integration resulted in the revision of all provisions of Article S9.11A and Article S22 and of the footnotes of Article S5. A new Article (S9.35A) was also added to cater for the need to publish the detailed results of examination of filings by the ITU for non-GSO systems. While the values for the limits were agreed by Committee 5, several areas of contention emerged concerning the applicability of the power limits on earth stations of GSO networks and the interrelationships between the power limits and the no-protection claim for non-GSO systems.

Off-axis limits to earth stations of GSO networks

    A long debate took place to determine to which earth stations the off-axis limits would apply. Understandbly, operators want to maximize their investments and make use of earth stations already in operation when new satellites are launched to complement or replace existing satellites. Under the current procedure, existing earth stations would have had to meet the newly agreed power limits because the filing of the new satellite would have considered the associated earth stations as being new. This would have meant, in practice, the obligation for operators to improve the off-axis limits of their earth stations. If they did not conform, which would be the case of many of these "old" earth stations, the filing would receive an unfavourable finding. That situation was unacceptable to GSO operators.

No protection claim of non-GSO systems

    The other issue was the view that the no-protection claim was inconsistent with the adoption of power limits. In the regulatory process of the ITU, when two stations meet the regulatory power limits to which they are subjected, it is concluded that they are fully protected. For European countries, it was discriminatory to introduce, in binding regulatory text, that one type of system had no right to claim protection against another when there are power limits applicable to sharing between them. Should such concept be agreed, they warn that it would be the entire Radio Regulations that would need to be reviewed. In this case, non-GSO systems would have no way to appeal against interference caused by GSO networks during their operational life although they would have undergone the filing process successfully, based on validation limits.

    In the case of the off-axis limits, it was finally decided to exempt earth stations in operation or ready to be in operation from the obligation to comply with the limits. For new filings, administrations responsible for the system on behalf of operators, would make a commitment regarding compliance with the off-axis limits given in section VI of Article S22 to earth stations to which the limits applied.

    With respect to the no-protection claim, it was agreed not to apply the provisions of S5.43 which stipulates that when a service is authorized to operate in a band provided it does not cause harmful interference, this means that the service cannot claim protection from harmful interference caused by the other services to which the band is allocated. For the non-GSO systems, the addition of this clause in the footnote means that while they cannot claim protection from GSO, they could not be held accountable for causing harmful interference to GSO given their compliance with the power limits.

Where to put it

    Prior to WRC-2000, a set of four footnotes in Article S5 applied to sharing between GSO networks and non-GSO systems (S5.441, S5.484A, S5.487A and S.5.516). European countries proposed to group all regulatory texts in Article S22 where all applicable power limits previously in Resolutions 130 and 538 have been included, without changing their constraining or regulatory character. The objective of the proposal was to preserve the compromise without unduly complicating the provisions of Article S5. The move was strongly opposed by the US which considered that the proposal directly linked the off-axis limits applicable to GSO and the power limits applicable to non-GSO and that that was a significant departure from the understanding of the compromise which they had reluctantly agreed to.

    A raft of interventions followed nearly all supporting the view that the two types of limits were definitely and logically linked as this linkage was the only reason for having accepted the off-axis limits. Both proponents then evaluated the degree to which they felt they had compromised. Even an attempt by the Chairperson to try to informally come up with a possible third approach that would reconcile the views failed to produce consensus which prompted him to decide that, as chairperson of Working Group 5D, he would send a note to Working Group 5D outlining how the second approach could be amended to resolve the problem.

Validation and operational limits

    A protracted exchange of views took place on the proposal to include in the footnotes of Article S5 some text aimed at fully protecting the assignments of the BSS Plans and GSO FSS against all harmful interference likely to occur during operation that would exceed the limits (validation and operational) of Article S22, to this effect. Validation limits are those used by ITU to examine the systems and provide a regulatory finding (favourable or unfavourable). Operational limits are those used when networks are operational as these are more stringent than the validation limits. The difference between validation and operational limits was agreed at the Conference Preparatory Meeting last November.

    Proposals aimed at including the requested text in a Resolution did not satisfy the requirements of the delegation that had made the request. Many considered that the values included in Article S22 were sufficient to ensure that assignments of the BSS Plans and GSO FSS were fully protected from possible interference from non-GSO systems. The main proponent argued however that the assignments were to be protected, even if they were not operational and that they were also to be protected when they became operational. For this reason, he insisted in including in all four footnotes on sharing between GSO and non-GSO networks that the full protection of the BSS Plans assignments was mandatory and that non-GSO FSS systems had the obligation to eliminate rapidly any harmful interference that may occur during their operation. It was finally agreed to include in all four footnotes these two sentences replacing "harmful" by "unacceptable" as "harmful" would require that defined levels exist, which was not the case.

Why do limits matter?

    In the process leading to the recording of frequency assignments, sharing of frequencies between GSO and non-GSO is effected in two ways: either by bilateral coordination between administrations based on threshold limits that prompt such coordination or, when there are no coordination mechanism, by compliance with hard limits. The ITU formulates its conclusion on the conformity of the frequency notification notices and on the protection to accord to a station, on the basis of compliance with hard limits: it is favourable if all parameters are complied with and unfavourable otherwise. As a result, if both stations (GSO and non-GSO) comply with the limits in one direction or the other, as provided for in the Radio Regulations, then countries cannot invoke any reason nor regulatory mechanisms to file a complaint regarding harmful interference to its station.

When the size of antennas becomes an issue

    An equally hot topic on the dayís programme was the review of the sharing arrangements in the band 13.75-14 GHz. Based on a very delicate balance of interests reached at a previous conference, proposals had been tabled that sought to change that balance. Within countries, several opposing views were expressed by the various operators of services sharing the band. Between countries, the way to meet the needs of all the various interests triggered intense debates. The compromise finally reached however collapsed in Committee 5 despite the warning of the Chairperson of the Working Group where the compromise had been agreed that if any change was requested, the compromise would very rapidly disappear.

    The problem centres on the size of antennas used by the fixed-satellite service operating in this band. The band is shared since 1992 by the FSS, the radiolocation and the radionavigation services. The space research service operates in part of the band under conditions set out in footnote S5.503A. Limits have been placed on all three services in footnote S5.502, including mandatory limits on the size of the antenna which must be at least 4.5 metres and on the power of any emission. Satellite operators would like these limits to be less constraining so as to take advantage of small antennas like VSAT to deliver services directly to customers in a bid to capture new markets. However, the constraints that were acceptable in 1992 by the radiolocation and radionavigation services would no longer be sustainable if the number of antennas was to grow significantly increasing the risk of interfering with radars.

    Given the very strong views expressed, it was finally decided that the package solution should maintain the mandatory size of the antennas and mandatory power limits. The Resolution was approved and the reservations noted.

Cost recovery: a murky territory

    Another debate broke out in Working Group 4A on Wednesday (24 May) concerning the implementation of processing charges for satellite network filings and administrative procedures. The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference had instructed the WRC-2000 to consider possible amendments to the Radio Regulations with respect to the satellite filing procedures.

    In its conclusions, a sub-working group of 4A had agreed that some regulatory consequence should be included in the Radio Regulations for failure to pay the cost-recovery fees set forth in a decision of the ITUís governing body, the Council (Decision 482). Its conclusions were based on proposals from the United States, the European group, and some APT countries, all of which contained provisions for implementation of a consequence for failure to pay the cost-recovery fees. The consequence would take the form of cancellation of the publication, and the network specified in the publication would no longer be taken into account in the coordination process. Furthermore, the new provisions would require the ITU to send a reminder to administrations and operators not later than 60 days prior to the due date if payment had not been received by that date.

    The European-common proposals were used as a baseline for developing the proposed amendments to the Radio Regulations.

    The sub-working group also agreed that transparency of the cost-recovery process was important to administrations and operators. It was proposed that invoice information should be posted on ITUís website and that confirmation that there were no book-keeping mistakes if payment was not received within six months of the date of the invoice. It was also proposed that adequate provisions should be included in the Financial Regulations or the internal financial procedures of ITU.

    Other proposals concerned the free entitlement of publications for one satellite network per year under Council Decision 482. The view of the sub-working group was that the determination of the "free" network was in the best interests of administrations/operators and that it would be appropriate to instruct the ITU to modify the procedure for implementation of cost-recovery so that each country may decide which of its satellite networks will be the "free" network at any point within the calendar year.

    If the "free" network is not identified prior to payment of the cost-recovery invoice, the administration/operator shall pay the cost-recovery fee. If the cost-recovery fee has been paid for a network that is later identified by the administration as the "free" network, the fee shall be refunded immediately to the administration/operator after identification of the "free" network. The sub-working group had noted, however, that because of the processing of the "backlog" the need for a refund was only likely to arise occasionally as publication and invoice would usually occur some time after the decision on the "free" entitlement.

    While most delegations in Working Group 4A supported the cost recovery concept, they were against the use of any form of "sanctions" implied in the proposed amendments to the Radio Regulations. The main concern was that a WRC deals with Radio Regulations but has no financial authority to adopt sanctions. They would rather take the matter to the Plenipotentiary Conference and request it to conclude on the appropriate provision to be included in the Convention. They also argued that what was being proposed was not the unique solution and wanted to see a full list of other options.

    One country agreed to look at other options. Other delegations insisted that any kind of option without imposing consequences for non-payment would only serve to change the order of the filings in the queue, creating a further backlog for the ITU. They argued that cost recovery would benefit developing countries as the funds to be acquired from these filings would be used to reduce the value of the contributory unit for all ITU Member States. "Why should developing countries be worried about these new provisions, after all the backlog of the filings is not from the developing world", one delegate said.

    Under the present arrangements, all countries fund this service, yet many nations, mostly from developing regions, have no demand for this service. A move to cost recovery, which is in line with the "user-pay" principle, was therefore thought to constitute a more equitable approach.

    As Working Group 4A had to complete its work on Thursday morning (25 May) the proposed changes to the Radio Regulations were put in square brackets and will be forwarded to Committee 4 for further discussion.

Studies relating to consideration of allocations in the broadcasting band 470-862 MHz to non-geostationary mobile-satellite services (Resolution 728)

    The ITU identified at least 22 little LEO networks as of 28 April 1999, at some stage of coordination under Resolution 46 (interim procedures for satellite filings in certain space services and the other space services to which certain bands are allocated). However, many of the proposed networks cannot be implemented in the existing allocations because there is not enough spectrum. Furthermore, in many countries, the channels assigned for analogue television may also be used for digital television, and during the transition period of parallel operation of analogue and digital television networks, the usage of this band for television will increase.

    The Resolution invites ITU to carry out additional studies to determine operational and technical means that may facilitate co-frequency sharing between narrow-band non-GSO MSS (space-to-Earth) transmissions and the services to which the band 470-862 MHz is allocated, including the bands where the broadcasting service is also allocated and the studies currently under way to determine television broadcasting and sound broadcasting requirements. The transmissions of analogue and digital television systems during the transition period of parallel operation should also be considered as spectrum usage during that period will increase.

    Based on the results of these studies a future WRC would consider the possibility of making additional allocations on a worldwide basis for non-GSO MSS.

In brief

Not an official document - For information only
22 May issue 25 May issue