1. What are the main issues being discussed at the WRC-07?
The main issue of the conference
is Agenda item 1.4: New allocations and identifications of spectrum for
International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT). This explains the attendance
at this conference of an unprecedented number of delegates: approximately 2600.
Mobile services are now part of
everyday life in all countries and there is a need to ensure that this service
can continue to grow in the future to adjust to new requirements: higher
transmission rates and new mobile applications. In the near future, people will
want the same type of service on mobile as already provided in their homes by
ADSL, fibre optic or cable.
The importance of this agenda item
is related to the fact that there is a need to earmark spectrum at worldwide
level to facilitate this development. Currently, most mobile systems are located
in the 1 GHz band but, as spectrum requirements increase, there is a need to tap
into the higher frequencies.
However, higher frequencies
translate into higher costs. Doubling the frequency band by going from 1 GHz to
2 GHz provides more spectrum, hence more capacity to the end-customer, but costs
are pushed up because many more base stations are required.
WARC-92 decided on mobile
allocations identified for IMT, which we know as 3G, in the 2 GHz bands.
WRC-2000 further made identifications for IMT at 2.6 GHz. WRC-07 may identify
bands above 3.4 GHz, which would entail further cost increase for deploying
This would result in the provision
of mobile services mainly to densely populated areas, such as large cities, and
lead to increasing the digital divide between sparsely and densely populated
areas. Lower frequencies are therefore needed to provide mobile services
everywhere and at a reasonable cost.
A combination of the following
would be ideal:
Higher frequencies for more
capacity and to provide more services to densely populated areas
Lower frequencies for less
densely populated areas to provide mobile services everywhere, with higher
capacity as well.
Access to spectrum by all
countries for both of these requirements is one of the main objectives of this
2. What are the main difficulties encountered so far on this Agenda Item?
Painful decisions may have to be
made by Administrations in order to pave the way for the future of mobile
services. Because these services use spectrum extensively, it is not possible to
share the same spectrum with mobile services in the same geographic location and
the current use of the frequency bands identified by this conference for the
mobile service may be put in question. The task before WRC-07 is therefore to
minimize the situations where Administrations would have to face such painful
The future is wireless — but
frequency spectrum is limited. There is a need to find new ways of sharing the
spectrum and that is the challenge before WRC-07.
One peculiarity of this conference
is that the regional groups (Africa, APT, Arab Group, CEPT, CITEL and RCC),
which have been instrumental in reaching consensus decisions in past WRC’s, have
generally been divided on the choice of the frequency bands to be selected,
because different countries have made differents choices in these bands and
these choices may be difficult to change now. I am confident that these initial
divisions will be overcome and several regional groups have already resolved
An important point is the large
convergence of the needs of developing and developed countries to reduce the
digital divide, and this convergence may form the basis of the success of this
There are two frequency bands
creating the most difficulty:
UHF band 470 - 862 MHz band
— is already used by terrestrial television broadcasting and therefore many
Administrations have difficulties in reducing the amount of spectrum that
may be used for this purpose in the future. Many however, are expected to
make this change, since the switch-over to digital terrestrial broadcasting
is expected to result in lesser spectrum requirements for broadcasting.
3.4 - 4.2 GHz band for
fixed satellite services — many countries are heavily dependant on
fixed-satellite service (FSS) links in this band, in particular tropical
countries with high rainfall rates, where higher frequency bands may not
offer a viable alternative. It would therefore be very difficult for them to
change the use of this frequency band in the foreseeable future.
3. What are the solutions proposed to resolve
this Agenda Item?
Given this situation, the best
solution appears to identify a set of frequency bands for the future, i.e. for
the next 20 to 30 years. From this set of frequency bands, each Administration could make a selection to accommodate its
requirements for mobile services without sacrificing other essential services,
such as television broadcasting or fixed-satellite links. Since this set of
frequency bands would be designated worldwide, this would also enable
manufacturers to produce equipment in large quantities to be distributed
internationally with attractive prices. The economies of scale arising from such
a decision would therefore benefit everybody.
The objective is to provide a
choice of bands for harmonized worldwide use and roaming. Currently, four bands
routinely coexist in the same terminals to facilitate roaming, so it is not
unreasonable to think that this number may be slightly increased for services to
be provided in the future to facilitate international roaming from one country
to another and high-capacity service everywhere.
4. Now that we are entering into the second
phase of the conference, could you please identify what are the other important
Agenda item 1.11 – This relates to the
Protection of Terrestrial Television Broadcasting from the
Broadcasting-satellite Service (BSS) in the UHF band. This has been resolved
essentially by phasing out the allocation to BSS in this band. The conference
has concluded that retaining this allocation would have constrained the
development of digital terrestrial Television, which is a priority for
many administrations. This allocation was only used by one Administration
(Russian Federation) until now without affecting other countries, and this
particular use will be allowed to continue.
Agenda items 1.5 and 1.6 — These are two
important items which address the spectrum requirements for aeronautical
services, such as flight testing of new aircraft, enhanced communications
facilities or use by unmanned aircraft in remote areas.
Agenda item 1.10 – This relates to the
review of the fixed-satellite service Plan contained in Appendix 30B of the
Radio Regulations, which guarantees access to spectrum by all countries to
satisfy their fixed-satellite requirements. The associated procedures were
established in 1988 and need to be updated in order to take into account new
technological developments as well as the requirements of many countries that
have since joined the ITU. A number of complex technical and regulatory issues
have to be taken into consideration for this.
In addressing the future of wireless
communications, several other agenda items are significant, such as #1.2, 1.3,
1.20 and 1.21, that relate to the requirements of earth exploration-satellite
services and passive services. Although only a few countries operate scientific
and meteorological satellites, these provide key services which serve the whole
world. They are used to monitor the Earth’s resources as well as for the
prediction and monitoring of natural disasters and the management of emergency
situations, for meteorology and prediction of climate changes. These are global
assets that need to be protected, which may require accepting constraints on
On all these issues, the conference is making
good progress and I hope this trend can be confirmed in the coming days.