Main results of the 'BR Workshop on the efficient use of the spectrum/orbit resource' (Geneva, Switzerland, 6 May 2009)
(by Yvon Henri, Chief Space Space Services Department and Nelson Malaguti, BR/SGD Counsellor for ITU-R Study Group 4 on Satellite Services)

The ITU Radiocommunication Bureau 'Workshop on the efficient use of the spectrum/ orbit resource' was held in Geneva on 6 May 2009. This event, the first such one ever organized by the Bureau, showed that it might now be time to openly discuss issues often qualified as 'sensitive' and hopefully make progress in adapting and improving the international satellite registration regulatory framework at the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) to be held in Geneva in 2012.

Indeed, the use of space radiocommunication services has progressed considerably over the years and, as a consequence, in recent years it has become increasingly difficult for administrations to obtain suitable new GSO positions and frequencies in both the planned and non-planned satellite services and fully coordinate them in application of the relevant provisions of the Radio Regulations. In this regard, orbit scarcity is not a “paper” satellite issue only, and real overload of GSO locations does occur today in some parts of the orbit for some coverage in some frequency bands. Efficient use of the spectrum/orbit resource is one of the most crucial challenges facing the international community in efforts to promote worldwide telecommunication development and achieve the connectivity access targets set by the World Summit on the Information Society.

The challenge for ITU, and thus for administrations and the satellite community, is to be able to continue carrying out the vital work of recording frequency assignments in the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR), thereby ensuring that frequencies and orbital positions associated with those assignments are compatible and do not result in interference.

The questions behind this challenge and put forward for the BR Workshop were:

  • Do ITU and the Radio Regulations, through the existing procedures for the registration of frequency assignments for space services, bring added value to administrations and the satellite community?

  • What mechanisms and practical strategies can be employed to ensure efficient use of the spectrum/orbit resource and improve the existing international satellite spectrum management systems?

To help respond to the above questions, sixteen presentations were made and discussed thoroughly in the course of four sessions. All discussions focused on the trade-offs between technical, operational, regulatory and economic efficiency for the effective use of the spectrum/orbit resource.

A suggestion-oriented summary of the main issues debated during the sessions may be found here. In this regard, it is worth noting the converging positions put forward for consideration in the presentations, as well as the full support expressed for the ideas formulated during the discussions.

During the final roundtable, participants recognized that to rise to the above challenges will require the combined efforts of all members of ITU. Thus far, there have been few forums in which all those with an interest in the effective and efficient use of the spectrum/orbit resource can get together to discuss the issue. Participants praised the Radiocommunication Bureau for the example set by the workshop, and concluded that exchanges of views of this kind should be pursued and enlarged, in order to promote and encourage the development of proposals for enhancing access to and the efficient and effective use of the spectrum/orbit resource. In this regard, it was recommended that WRC-12 Agenda items 7 and 8.1 dealing with Resolution 86 (Rev.WRC-07) and the Report of the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau, in particular on actions in response to Resolution 80 (Rev.WRC-07) be maintained as standing items on future conference agendas.

There was consensus that the international regulatory framework for registering satellite networks must be improved, and that the improved framework be operative or ready to be operative by the next WRC-12 if ITU is to maintain its authority, bring added value and thus remain fully relevant to administrations and the satellite community.

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