Regional Radiocommunication Conference - 1st Session

The 1st session of the Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-04) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the planning of the digital radio and television terrestrial broadcasting service in the frequency bands 174-230 MHz e 470-862 MHz ended on 28 May.

The first step towards the future of a fully digital radio and television broadcasting service was made with the establishment of the technical criteria and planning principles for Europe, Middle East and Africa (Region 1) and Iran (Region 3).

The Regional Radiocommunication Conference is a two-step process: the first session, in which the technical parameters and the criteria to be used in the realization of the planning exercises during the intersessional period were adopted, and one second session, foreseen for the 2nd quarter of 2006, in which a frequency plan will be adopted.

There are several reasons for migration to the digital technology, such as:

- Possibility of additional services;
- Better image and sound quality;
- Increase in the number of programmes and data services;
- Greater spectral efficiency.

The digital radio and television terrestrial broadcasting service uses radio spectrum in a much more efficient way than the analogue service. For terrestrial television, four  digital TV programmes can be accommodated in the same amount of frequency spectrum currently required to transmit a single analogue TV programme. This improvement in efficiency is known as ?digital dividend?. The extent of this ?digital dividend? will only be known after the finalization of the works to be performed during the intersessional period and after the adoption of the new digital Plan by the 2nd session of the conference.

Decisions of the 1st RRC-04 session

One of the major challenges of the 1st session of the Conference was to determine the rules that would allow the coexistence of the analogue and digital radio and television terrestrial broadcasting service, in particular during the transition period.

Therefore, it was decided that during that period (from analogue to digital) the analogue stations will be protected by the digital stations.

After the transition period, the analogue stations may still be used, but the digital stations will then be protected by the analogue stations.

This transition period starts on the date of the entry into force of the new Agreement and ends on a date to be defined by the 2nd session. For this second date, two options were identified:

Option 1 ? as soon as possible and preferably before 2015, however, longer or shorter transition periods may multi-laterally be agreed, provided that they will not affect other administrations (option proposed by the great majority of the European countries);

Option 2 ? Not before 2028 or after 2038, however, shorter transition periods may multi-laterally be agreed (option proposed by the Arabian and African countries).

Anyway, it will be the responsibility of each Administration to decide the date on which the respective analogue stations will no longer broadcast. The date for the entry into force of the new Agreement, to be decided by the 2nd session, shall take place at least 1 year after the end of the 2nd session.

Share with other primary services

Although most of the countries of the planning area, such as Portugal, exclusively use the broadcasting service in the frequency bands to be planned, in some of the countries these frequency bands are also used by other primary services , so the latter will have to be protected should the respective administrations so request.

In the VHF frequency band, 174-230 MHz, the following primary services were identified:

- fixed service;
- mobile service;
- aeronautical radionavigation service.

In thee UHF frequency band, 470-862 MHz, the following primary services were identified:

- fixed service;
- mobile service;
- radionavigation service;
- broadcasting satellite-service;
- mobile-satellite, except the aeronautical mobile-satellite service;
- radio astronomy.

Since interferences may occur not only in the planning frequency bands but also in the adjacent frequency bands, the Conference will go on identifying criteria to test compatibility inside the frequency bands and in the adjacent bands, so as to ensure the integrity of its compatibility methods during the intersessional period.

Works during the intersessional period

For the intersessional period, the Conference decided to set up in ITU two working groups, in which the participation, similarly to the Conference, is open to the Administrations included in the planning area. The Regulatory/Procedural Group (RPG) will study the regulatory affairs and establish the respective procedures, necessary to the revision of the 1961 Stockholm and the 1989 Geneva Regional Agreements, which established planning of the analogue TV broadcasting service for the frequency bands subject to planning now. The Intersessional Planning Group (IPG) will do the planning exercises, based on the requirements set out by several Administrations and taking into account all multi-lateral agreements meanwhile established. The final result will be a preliminary Plan to be submitted to the 2nd session.

Equitable access

ITU constitution includes the principle of equitable access to the use of the radio spectrum. The 1st session acknowledged that the agreement should be established so as to fulfil this principle. However, the methods and the criteria for the implementation of equitable access will be studied and defined by the IPG during the intersessional period and reported to the 2nd session of the Conference.

For more information on this matter, consult the ''International Presence'' area of Anacom site.