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Spectrum and orbit matters
Promoting efficient use of finite resources

The radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary orbit around Earth are finite resources that are in rapidly increasing demand. So it is crucial that they are used efficiently. This issue was on the agenda at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2006, and at the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2007 (WRC-07). Administrations, satellite operators and industry were asked to seek ways to improve the procedures governing access to orbits and frequencies, in order to reflect the latest technologies.

In May 2009, ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) organized its first-ever workshop on the efficient use of the spectrum/orbit resource. It was time to openly discuss issues that are often considered “sensitive” and hopefully make progress towards improving the regulatory framework for international satellite registration, on the agenda of the World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in Geneva in 2012 (WRC-12).

The use of Space-based radiocommunication services has risen considerably and it has become increasingly difficult for administrations to obtain suitable new geostationary satellite orbit (GSO) positions and frequencies (for both planned and non-planned services) and to coordinate them under the Radio Regulations. Today, there is a real overload upon GSO locations in some parts of the orbit for some coverage in some frequency bands.

At the BR workshop, among the key questions raised was whether, through existing procedures for registering frequency assignments for Space services, ITU and the Radio Regulations bring added value to administrations and the satellite community. Also, how can efficient use of the spectrum/orbit resource be ensured, and how can international satellite spectrum management systems be improved? The issues were discussed thoroughly, focusing on the tradeoffs required among technical, operational, regulatory and economic efficiencies.

Participants recognized that meeting the challenge will require the combined efforts of all members of ITU — and they commended BR for organizing a forum for discussion. They concluded that such exchanges of view should be encouraged and enlarged, in order to help develop proposals for enhancing access to, and the efficient use of, the spectrum/ orbit resource. To achieve this, the topic should be among standing items on the agendas of WRC. There was also consensus that the international regulatory framework for registering satellite networks must be improved, and be in operation (or ready for operation) by WRC-12.


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