World Radiocommunication Conference
Highlights WRC2000 Newsroom
8 May-2June

 Istanbul, 25 May 2000 N° 13
 23-24 May issue 26-29 May issue    


    The issue of sharing between GSO and non-GSO systems was one of the most important and difficult issues dealt with by Working Group 5D.

    The charged atmosphere that prevailed in Committee 5 during Wednesday’s debates could be felt again today when delegations addressed a proposed modification of footnote S5.520 of the Radio Regulations. The original text was limiting the use of the band 18.1-18.4 GHz by the fixed-satellite service to feeder links of the broadcasting-satellite service. The proposed modification aimed at introducing a further limitation in that the use by the fixed-satellite service would be only for GSO satellites because no sharing studies with non-GSO were available.

    European countries strongly opposed the modification as they consider that it was outside the mandate of the Conference. In their view, the mandate of the Conference in relation to this agenda item was to reconsider the provisional limits in certain bands and consider whether it was possible to include limits or other regulatory mechanisms in other bands. They instead proposed to delete S5.520. They also warned the meeting that the move would effectively mean that any allocation to the fixed-satellite service that would be covered by specific regulatory provisions would be considered as being reserved to GSO networks given that, in most cases, studies would not have been carried out. After lengthy debate and in view of the lack of support, Committee 5 adopted the modification.

    Another highly contentious area concerned the way in which the essential provisions (pfd limits and no-protection claim) of Resolution 130, that covered the regulatory procedure for the use of non-GSO FSS in certain frequency bands and the associated provisional pfd limits, could be carried over in new provisions of the Radio Regulations. The proposals to WRC-2000 were very different and divergent and through hard bargaining, narrowing down the options to two, it was finally considered that the better approach was the following: to suppress Resolution 130, carry over some of the essential provisions in the omnibus Resolution on transitional arrangements and bring into force a revised section VI of Article S22 that contains all limits. Introduced by WRC-97, this section was immediately suspended pending review by this Conference.

    The linkage between the limits and the no-protection claim having disappeared from the new text, the proponents emphasized the fact that the compromise reached the day before was based on that linkage. The deletion of Resolution 130 could only be accepted on the basis of a written statement by the Radio Regulations Board stating how a station protected by way of hard limits applicable to another system could claim protection in cases where there were no coordination procedures. The idea was to have a trace of the basis on which the compromise was reached. Several delegations requested that a resolution or a statement be drafted that would make clear that all services must be protected through limits and that the limits which are in Article S22 are the appropriate regulatory provisions to protect both GSO and non-GSO systems.

    Many felt that such a text would help those who were not party to the agreement in WRC-97 to understand the situation as it would provide historical background giving the basis on which these limits were established, what they really meant and how they should be implemented in the spirit of the two key operative paragraphs of Resolution 130 about to be deleted. That proposal was however strongly opposed on the ground that the compromise on the table was a delicate one and had been accepted with great difficulty by many and that writing new material at this point was only bound to lead the meeting back into the trenches again. The proponents of the text however asked that it be given a chance before opposing it. It was decided that the parties to this issue would get together informally to come up with a text that would be considered at the final meeting of Committee 5 on Friday provided that the text would be for guidance purposes and would not contradict the compromise.

    The package compromise was finally endorsed by Committee 5. It included a few modifications to section VI of Article S22 dealing with the interaction between GSO and non-GSO systems, the revision of 3 footnotes from Article S5 (S5.441, S5.484A and S5.487A to align them on the modifications agreed in another footnote (S5.516), and a new element in Appendix 4 concerning a compliance commitment by administrations making a filing for GSO network (see WRC2000 Highlights of 23-24 May, under No protection claim of non-GSO systems).

    A new Resolution (COM5/17) on the possible identification of spectrum for non-GSO FSS (uplink) gateway type operations was also agreed. The purpose of this Resolution is to study the necessity and suitability of identifying spectrum for such operations outside the bands allocated to the non-GSO FSS given the imbalance between the uplink and downlink in the spectrum currently identified and the incompatibilities in the 17.3-17.8 GHz with existing and planned operations including broadcasting-satellite and radiolocation services in the Americas.

    In addition to fine-tuning the hard-fought agreements reached the day before (see WRC2000 Highlights of 23-24 May, under Non-GSO/GSO sharing: the compromise unravels), Committee 5 also adopted the provisions to be included in an "omnibus" Resolution dealing with all transitional arrangements that may be required prior to 1 January 2002, proposed date of entry into force of the provisions of the Radio Regulations adopted or modified at WRC-2000. The provisions aim at avoiding a regulatory void as a result of the suppression of Resolutions 130, 131 and 538 which is effective immediately, pending the entry into force of the new and modified provisions of the Regulations in 2002.

MSS allocation for downlink

    The other difficult issue that was addressed by Committee 5 on 25 May , concerned the downlink allocation for the mobile-satellite service (for background, see WRC2000 Highlights of 17 May, under MSS allocation: a sticky issue).

    As requested by Committee 5, Working Group 5B prepared a document consisting of a list of ITU studies and Recommendations available on the subject of MSS sharing in the prospective band 1518-1525 MHz as well as two draft resolutions addressing further studies to conduct on the possible MSS allocations for both the uplink and downlink. However, delegations camped on their positions and the material was not agreed upon by the Working Group.

    Committee 5 therefore considered the proposal by 20 European countries consisting in adding an allocation in 1518-1525 MHz in Regions 1 and 3, extend the provisions that already exist in Region 2 to protect aeronautical mobile telemetry so that this protection would be afforded in all three Regions, give further protection to mobile systems in Japan by changing the pfd threshold in footnote S5.348A and add a footnote to give additional protection to fixed and mobile services through a no-interference no-protection claim.

    Opposing countries indicated that it was not specifically on the Conference agenda and that the Conference Preparatory Meeting had considered that possible band. Also, the proposed band was used by mobile services and, in many countries, by aeronautical telemetry where sharing difficulties were expected. Others felt that the technical information available did not support a conclusion that such an allocation was possible.

    Others disagreed, stressing that the CPM had specifically stated that "if the bands considered in resolution 220 are not found suitable for MSS allocation, administrations are urged to find an alternative MSS downlink band". It was also said that certain countries opposed a worldwide allocation on the basis of national considerations. In view of the deadlock, the Chairperson asked for a show of hands which indicated that a majority was against proceeding with an allocation. By show of hands, a majority also agreed to suppress both Resolutions 220 and 213. The Chairperson then made a proposal that was adopted: the two Resolutions that were tabled and that dealt with the uplink (COM5/AB) and the downlink (COM5/CD) would be reviewed to widen the operative paragraphs so as to allow for a wider frequency range to be studied in order to avoid the same catch 22 at WRC. If the ITU studies were to lead to unsatisfactory conclusions alternative bands would be proposed for consideration by a future conference.

Earth stations on board vessels sail through

    A deal was finally brokered on 25 May on the question of earth stations located on board vessels (ESV). After nearly three weeks of tough negotiations in Working Group 4B (see WRC2000 Highlights of 9 May under Earth stations on board vessels), a new draft Resolution prepared and approved by this group was endorsed at a meeting of Committee 4.

    A number of delegations supported the view expressed by the Conference Preparatory Meeting on the use of the bands 3700-4200 MHz and 5925-6425 MHz by ESVs to provide wideband services to cruise liners, passenger ships, naval vessels, seismic research, petroleum vessels and other deep draft vessels.

    The Resolution provides a way forward for ESVs to operate in the fixed-satellite service (FSS) in these bands. Along with the Resolution are two annexes which contain provisional general, as well as technical guidelines to be applied to ESVs operating in these bands.

    Given the limited number of geostationary FSS systems that have global coverage, the Resolution recognizes that there may be a number of vessels using these ESVs, which may cause a high coordination burden to some countries, particularly developing ones.

    In order to ensure the protection and future growth of other services, technical and operational constraints have been agreed for ESV. The Resolution further notes that operation within the territorial waters should be left to the discretion of the territorial authority whose relevant procedures would apply.

    The Resolution also calls for a number of technical and operational studies to be continued in particular on the constraints which can be applied to ESV operations and on the feasibility of using mitigation techniques as a way to avoid the need for detailed coordination of ESVs without constraining existing services. In the light of these studies, WRC-2003 may assess and decide on the provisions under which ESVs could operate in FSS networks in the bands 3700-4200 MHz and 5925-6425 MHz.

    Meanwhile, agreement between countries licensing ESVs and those that may be affected will be made on a bilateral or multilateral basis using the newly agreed provisional guidelines. Compliance with such agreements will form part of the licensing process.

Cost recovery: the saga continues

    The song "Cost recovery" stole the limelight in Committee 4 on Thursday 25 May, the prelude having been played out earlier in Working Group 4A (see WRC2000 Highlights of 23-24 May under Cost recovery: a murky territory). All delegations sang in unison to the tune "We must implement cost recovery". However, like in most things, the devil is in the details. And here, delegations well and truly parted company.

    Views remained highly polarized. For one school of thought, identification of measures to be taken in respect of non-payment of cost recovery was within the authority of this Conference. However, the Conference was not considered competent to adopt any measure that would affect the right of Member States as a result of such non-payment. This was a matter for the Plenipotentiary Conference.

    Another view was that the matter was to be addressed by the ITU Council, requesting that the policy established for the payment of publications also be applied to cost recovery for satellite network filings. If such an approach was taken, the Council would then have to report to the next Plenipotentiary Conference on the results of the application of such a resolution.

    A number of delegations argued that a resolution would not be adequate and that the only way forward was to include regulatory provisions in the Radio Regulations to deal with non-payment, not to further delay the process.

    Other delegations argued that satellite operators should bear the responsibility of non-payment not the administration filing on their behalf.

    There was a very strong message that operators should deal directly with ITU and face any liability and that countries should be able to decide whether operators could deal with the ITU directly.

    The debate is going on now in Plenary as we go to press (31 May).

High-frequency broadcasting

    Recommendation 503 dealing with HF broadcasting (short-wave) was reviewed to reflect today’s situation in HF broadcasting. Given that digital techniques have enabled significant improvements in reception quality and that the introduction of digital modulation systems in the broadcasting bands below 30 MHz has been shown to be feasible by using low bit-rate coding, the newly revised Recommendation encourages manufacturers to closely monitor the development of the studies carried out by ITU on digital techniques in HF broadcasting with a view to starting mass production of new low-cost digital receivers as soon as possible after the completion of those studies.

    In that context, the Recommendation stresses that an ITU recommended worldwide system for digital sound in the HF bands would be extremely beneficial, particularly for developing countries because such a system would allow for mass scale production of receivers at lower costs and more cost-effective upgrade of existing analogue to digital transmitting infrastructures.

    Besides, digital receivers would offer more spectrum-efficient features such as assisted tuning and robustness to co-channel and adjacent channel interference.

In brief

Not an official document - For information only
23-24 May issue 26-29 May issue