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WRC 2012: Suggestions for Enhanced International Radio Regulations May Redefine Some Services

[The following item is reprinted with from the Geneva-based World Radiocommunication Report with their kind permission]

Modest suggestions for enhancing the international radio regulatory framework at the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference are emerging from preparatory talks during the last four years. The main question under this conference agenda item is whether to continue to base existing applications and the introduction of new technologies on the roughly 40 services defined in the Radio Regulations for the table of frequency allocations, or to find some other basis for regulations and provisions for spectrum management at the international level, said ITU Radiocommunication Bureau Director Valery Timofeev in a May interview.

One idea for a new resolution on general allocation issues under the WRC-12 agenda item includes principles, such as allocating frequency bands to the most broadly defined service as geographically broad as possible, and limiting exceptional cases, said Lilian Jeanty with the Radiocommunications Agency in the Netherlands. The principles also refer to the interplay between allocations and climate change and the digital divide, she said during a June 10 workshop on European objectives at the conference.

A European proposal on terrestrial issues suggested changing the definition of the fixed service (FS) to clarify applications allowed, Jeanty said. The proposal consists of modifying the definition of FS to clarify that a receiving fixed station could be at a specified fixed point or at any fixed point in a specified area, according to a preliminary report by the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR).

The method also proposes modification to the consolidated list and tables for use in the application of procedures for “coordination, notification and coordination of frequency assignments and Plan modifications” to allow notification of the circular receiving area for fixed service, the BR report said. The proposal could also affect the BR data processing system TerRaSys, it said. Changes to the data processing system would take about six months, it said.

Another impact of the European proposal is that the submission of a geographical area equal to a country would mean that fixed service receiving stations may operate in the whole territory of a given country, the BR report said. “This may be not in line with the nature of the fixed point-to-area applications, which are normally confined to a limited service area (with exception of few countries with small territories),” it said. No impact was identified on international regulatory aspects of coordination.

An alternative proposal from Canada raised many concerns about the impact on the international regulatory framework, the BR report said. “Therefore, further thorough analysis of the regulatory provisions, which are potentially affected by the proposed changes, would be necessary.” The regulatory impact will be considered during an ITU-R meeting in November. ITU-R talks on convergence of satellite services settled on the idea that the regulations have sufficient flexibility, Jeanty said.

Satellite operators are interested in what constitutes a fixed- and a mobile-service because many satellite bands are shared on a co-primary basis with one or both of these services, AsiaSat told an ITU-R working party meeting last month. AsiaSat said point-to-multi-point applications using ubiquitous terminals were not meant to be deployed under the fixed service category. Operation of point-to-multipoint applications using ubiquitous terminals under the FS category causes interference into fixed satellite service (FSS) operations in bands shared as co-primary, it said.

The operational equivalency of point-to-multipoint applications using ubiquitous terminals and mobile applications, which are notified as either a mobile or fixed service, is one reason why some administrations are today treating FS and mobile service (MS)allocations on an area basis without distinguishing between them, AsisSat said. It is also the motivation for proposals to merge the FS and MS service categories and even in some cases including the broadcasting service category, it said. AsiaSat said the FS and MS service categories should not be merged but that the service categories should be redefined to reflect current usage.

AsiaSat wants to redefine the FS and MS definitions so that point-to-multipoint applications using ubiquitous terminals are included in the MS and specifically excluded from the FS. The FS and the FSS share well, AsiaSat said, but fixed- and broadband-wireless access don’t share well with FSS applications, it said.

AsiaSat thinks the satellite industry could support either a clarification in the present definition of the fixed service that specifically excludes point-to-multi-point applications using ubiquitous terminals, or a redefinition of the fixed service that excludes point-to-multipoint applications using ubiquitous terminals.

ITU-R participants dealing in space radiocommunication applications said changes to the fixed and mobile services in bands shared with space research-, Earth exploration- and meteorological-satellite services may adversely affect coordination with earth stations. Ubiquitous terrestrial systems introduced as a result of changes to the fixed and mobile services in shared bands may also affect space borne receivers, they said. Other participants dealing with remote sensing said changes to the fixed and mobile services leading to introduction of ubiquitous terrestrial systems in bands shared with Earth exploration-satellite (passive), Earth exploration-satellite (active), and meteorological-aids services would also affect
space-borne receivers.

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