ITU WRC-15 - results of fourth week

The 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2 to 27 November 2015, has completed its fourth week. The conference's proceedings ended on 27 November, with the signature of the Final Acts of WRC-15 by the representatives of 162 of the ITU's 193 Member States.

During the fourth week of the conference new ad-hoc groups had to be set up to resolve agenda items where differences have led to a true impasse, particularly items 1.1 (spectrum for the mobile service / International Mobile Telecommunications - IMT) and 1.5 (UAS-drones). The results of the ad-hoc groups, in some cases inconclusive, were presented to the plenary, where the last working sessions outlined solutions which, after intensive debate, were adopted.

The results of the last plenary sessions included:

- Lower UHF band (470-694 MHz): distinct solutions agreed by Region, in particular:

  • Region 1 (Europe and Africa) - no change is made to the band, maintaining primary allocation to the broadcasting service; it was agreed to review the situation of the 470-960 MHz band in full at the 2023 World Conference;
  • Regions 2 and 3 (other areas) - parts of the band were identified for the mobile service/IMT in some (a few) countries.

- L-band (1.5 GHz): harmonised solution found - global identification for IMT - for 1427-1452 MHz and 1492-1518 MHz sub-bands; in relation to the 1452-1492 MHz band, the decision was differentiated by region, specifically:

  • Region 1 - identified for IMT in some countries in Africa and the Middle East; at the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), the regional organisation of European countries, this sub-band was not identified for IMT, given the limitations resulting from current use by countries of Regional Communications Community (RCC), regional organisation for Eastern European countries (aeronautical radio navigation);
  • Regions 2 and 3 - identified for IMT.

- C-band (3300-3800 MHz) and the 4-5 GHz band: closely weighing the interests of the mobile community and the satellite community, it was agreed as follows:

  • 3300-3400 MHz - identified for IMT in some countries of Region 1 (sub-Saharan Africa) and countries of Regions 2 and 3;
  • 3400-3600 MHz - conversion of the current assignment of the spectrum to the mobile service in a footnote to article no. 5 of the Radio Regulations (RR) into an assignment in the table in article 5 of the RR (thereby increasing the visibility of this primary assignment to the mobile service) and identification, in Regions 1, 2 and partially in Region 3, for IMT. It should be noted that this assignment maintains the previously existing technical and regulatory constraints;
  • 3600-3700 MHz - identified for IMT in (a few) countries in Region 2 with technical and regulatory provisions which will protect the fixed-satellite service;
  • 3700-3800 MHz - unmodified framework, i.e. no identification of this band for IMT in any region;
  • 4800-4990 MHz - identified for IMT in a country of Region 2 and three countries of Region 3.

- Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS): this was one of the most contentious topics of the Conference and a Resolution was approved which was atypical in terms of the usual format of resolutions issued by World Conferences, which is embodied in a list of decisions that encompasses all the positions advanced at the Conference, even where antagonistic. In short, approval was given to the identification of spectrum currently assigned to the fixed-satellite service in the Ku band (14/11 GHz) and Ka band (20/30 GHz) but whose frequency assignments for these applications are subject to approval of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This decision is subject to further review by WRC-23, after completion of technical, operational and regulatory studies developed and approved by the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).

Note should also be made of the adoption of the agenda for the next World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-19, after reconciliation of all interests, including, in particular, the following topics: spectrum for IMT above 6 GHz; regulatory measures to support the modernization of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS); spectrum, technical and regulatory measures to support the introduction and use of Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS); potential allocation of the 50-54 MHz band to the amateur service; global or regional harmonisation of additional spectrum for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in the context of existing allocations to the mobile service; use of 17.7-19.7 GHz / 27.5-29.5 GHz frequencies by Earth Stations In Motion (ESIM); regulatory actions for high altitude platforms stations (HAPS) in the context of the existing allocations of the fixed service; spectrum and regulatory actions for wireless access systems / Radio Local Area Networks (WAS/RLAN) in bands between 5150-5925 MHz; and spectrum and/or review of the regulatory framework for satellite networks.

The first preparatory meeting of the WRC-19, CPM19-1 (Conference Preparatory Meeting), will play an important role in organising and coordinating preparatory studies for WRC-19, which will identify the ITU-R working groups dedicated to its preparation and also the structure of the report that will be completed at the second preparation meeting (CPM19-2).