|International Telecommunication Union
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World Radiocommunication Conference Concludes
Agreements Define Future of Radiocommunications
Geneva, 4 July 2003 — The World Radiocommunication
Conference 2003 (WRC-03) concluded, after four-weeks of negotiations, with a
blueprint for the global radiocommunication sector that reflects its current and
The WRC is the international forum where Members States gather
to revise an international treaty
known as the Radio Regulations. It contains frequency allocations for more than
40 radiocommunication services ranging from amateur and professional radio
services to mobile wireless technologies and satellite communications.
A number of landmark decisions were taken by the conference to
deal with the increasing pressure placed the radio frequency spectrum, which is
a limited natural resource. The demand for spectrum is the result of the
exponential growth of information and communication technologies. This was
reflected in an unprecedented number of agenda items (48) and individual
proposals from Member States (2 500) that were dealt with during WRC-03.
The conference, heralded a success, also highlighted the need
to increase efficiencies in the radiocommunication preparatory and conference
process. Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International
Telecommunication Union, reminded the 2 300 delegates that their work "has
an enormous impact on the information society and the decisions taken are
critical to allowing ITU to help build a global communication system that
benefits all of humanity."
WRC establishes the global technical, operational and
regulatory guidelines for the use of frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.
Here are some key highlights from the conference:
Wireless LANS Get Global Allocation
WRC-03 successfully established new frequency allocations to
the mobile service in the bands 5 150-5 350 MHz and 5 470-5 725 MHz for the
implementation of wireless access systems including RLANs. Wireless devices that
do not require individual licenses are being used to create broadband networks
in homes, offices and schools. These networks are also being used in public
facilities in so-called hot spots such as airports, cafes, hotels, hospitals,
train stations and conference sites to offer broadband access to the Internet.
An example of the efficiencies produced by these networks was seen at the heart
of the conference centre itself. The work of the conference was easier, in terms
of providing delegates fast and easy access to documents and to their corporate
The lower part of the 5 GHz spectrum will be predominantly
used for indoor applications with the first 100MHz (5 150-5 250 MHz) restricted
to indoor use. The use of these frequency bands is conditional to provisions
that provide for interference mitigation mechanisms and power emission limits to
avoid interference into other radiocommunication services operating in the same
IMT–2000 and Beyond: Planning for future growth
As the industry moves beyond IMT-2000 systems, the demand for
seamless inter-working between telecommunication systems is expected to
increase. Systems beyond IMT-2000 will comprise a multitude of telecommunication
systems including 3G systems and their enhancements, WLAN-type systems,
short-range connectivity systems, and broadcast systems.
The ITU reaffirmed its support for the continuing deployment
of mobile wireless communications by recognizing the need to provide a global
vision for the future development and advancement of IMT-2000. As part of this
commitment, ITU will conduct further work to develop Recommendations in these
ITU will study technical and operational issues relating to
the future development of IMT–2000 and systems beyond IMT-2000,
and develop Recommendations as required. These studies will take into account:
- the evolving user needs, including the growth in demand
for IMT–2000 services;
- the evolution of IMT–2000 and pre-IMT–2000 systems
through advances in technology;
- the bands currently identified for IMT–2000;
- the time-frame in which spectrum would be needed;
- the period for migration from existing to future
- the extensive use of frequencies below those identified
in the Radio Regulations for IMT–2000.
These studies will also take into consideration the particular
needs of developing countries, including use of the satellite component of
IMT-2000 for suitable coverage of these countries.
Public Protection and Disaster Relief Communication Takes
ITU delegates at WRC-03 approved a resolution that will pave
the way for the deployment of new technologies for wideband and broadband public
protection and disaster relief applications. At present, public protection and
disaster relief applications are mostly narrow-band supporting voice and low
data-rate applications. It is anticipated that many future applications will be
wideband-based (with data rates in the range of 384-500 kbit/s) and/or
broadband-based (with data rates in the range of 1-100 Mbit/s).
Countries are urged to use regionally harmonized bands for
public protection and disaster relief to the maximum extent possible, taking
into account the national and regional requirements and also having regard to
any needed consultation and cooperation with other concerned countries. They are
also to encourage public protection and disaster relief agencies and
organizations to utilize relevant ITU-R Recommendations in planning spectrum use
and implementing technology and systems supporting public protections and
The benefits of spectrum harmonization include increased
potential for interoperability in public protection and disaster relief
situations. It may also create a broader manufacturing base and increased volume
of equipment resulting in economies of scale and expanded equipment availability
and improved spectrum management.
Manufacturers are encouraged to take this resolution into
account in future equipment designs, including the need for countries to operate
within different parts of the identified bands.
High Altitude Platform Stations Rise Again
The issue of high altitude platform stations (HAPS) was the
topic of much negotiation during the conference. While the concept of HAPS isn’t
new, there are new projects proposed that aim to provide wide-area fixed
wireless services from balloon-like devices located in the Earth’s
HAPS are in an advanced stage of development and some
countries have notified ITU of such systems in the bands 47.2-47.5 GHz and
47.9-48.2 GHz. While the decision to deploy HAPS can be taken on a national
basis, such deployment may affect neighbouring administrations, particularly in
This decision includes a new resolution on the potential use
of the bands 27.5-28.35 GHz and 31-31.3 GHz by HAPS in the fixed service.
Results of some ITU studies indicate that in these bands, sharing between the
fixed service systems using HAPS and other conventional fixed service systems in
the same area will require that appropriate interference mitigation techniques
are developed and implemented. ITU will continue studies on technical and
regulatory fronts. It will also study sharing between systems using HAPS and the
radio astronomy service.
The development of any new service, such as HAPS, requires
major investments and manufacturers and operators have to be given the
confidence to make them. The decision reached by WRC-03 sends a positive signal
A Happy Landing for Aeronautical Services
The need for compatibility between aeronautical and
broadcasting services posed some challenges for WRC-03. Aeronautical systems are
converging towards a digital environment that supports aeronautical navigation
and surveillance functions, which need to be accommodated in existing radio
A new resolution on the use of the band 108-117.975 MHz by
aeronautical services was approved. It recognizes the need for the aeronautical
community to provide additional services in order to enhance navigation and
surveillance systems as well as passenger access to e-mail and Internet services
through telecommunication data links. It also takes account of the need for the
broadcasting community to provide digital terrestrial sound broadcasting.
The resolution allows for the additional use of the band
108-117.975 MHz by the aeronautical mobile radionavigation service on a
primary basis. However, such use is limited to systems that transmit
navigational information in support of air navigation and surveillance functions
in accordance with recognized international aviation standards. Surveillance
functions include the observation of aircraft location, velocity and weather
conditions for the purpose of air traffic control and situational
awareness/collision avoidance between aircraft.
ITU will study any compatibility issues between the
broadcasting and aeronautical services that may arise from the introduction of
these additional aeronautical systems.
High Density Applications Provide Boost for Broadband
There has been steady and global increase in demand for
broadband services, such as those provided by high-density applications through
the fixed-satellite service (HDFSS). HDFSS is an advanced broadband
communication application that allows access to a wide range of broadband
telecommunication applications supported by fixed telecommunication networks
(including the Internet).
HDFSS systems are characterized by flexible and rapid
deployment of a large number of earth stations employing small antennas. WRC-03
has approved guidelines for the implementation of HDFSS in a number of frequency
bands. These guidelines will help facilitate the implementation of HDFSS,
thereby helping to maximize global access and economies of scale.
Earth stations on board vessels Approved
The question of whether earth stations on board vessels (ESV)
should be considered as a fixed-satellite service or a mobile-satellite service
generated a great deal of discussion at WRC-03.
The demand for global wideband satellite communication service
on vessels has increased and the technology exists that enables these vessels to
use fixed-satellite service (FSS) networks to provide a wide variety of
communications services such as Internet access. Despite a number of technical
and regulatory concerns, it was resolved that ESVs transmitting in the 5925 6
425 MHz and 14 – 14.5 GHz bands will be permitted providing they meet a number
of specific technical limitations.
Morse CODE: Not Gone Yet
It has been predicted that the need to master Morse code as a
requirement to obtain an amateur radio operators license, could be coming to an
end. However, it was resolved to leave this to the discretion of the individual
countries whether it would be necessary to demonstrate knowledge of Morse code
in order to be granted an amateur radio operators license.
The conference took a major decision to add 100 KHz of
bandwidth on a global basis, as a first step toward balancing amateur service
needs and broadcasting interests.
For more detailed press report on the outcome and key decisions
made during WRC-03 click here.