The WRC-15 (World Radiocommunication Conference 2015) concluded its deliberations by allocating spectrum to mobile broadband, amateur radio service, emergency & disaster relief, search & rescue, earth observation satellites, unmanned aircraft & wireless avionics, flight tracking, maritime communications and road safety.
Festus Daudu, chairman, WRC-15 said, “This conference dealt with a large number of important and sensitive issues, ranging from mobile broadband communications and satellite systems to emergency communications and disaster relief, maritime and aeronautical communications, environmental monitoring and climate change, universal time and space research as well as radiocommunication services that the public relies on for health, information, education, security and safety.”
Key Outcomes Of WRC-15
Mobile Broadband: WRC-15 took a key decision that will provide enhanced capacity for mobile broadband in the 694-790 MHz frequency band in ITU Region-1 (Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia) and a globally harmonized solution for the implementation of the digital dividend. Full protection has been given to television broadcasting as well as to the aeronautical radionavigation systems operating in this frequency band.
Following the growing demand for spectrum for mobile broadband services, WRC-15 identified frequency bands in the L-band (1427-1518 MHz) and in the lower part of the C-band (3.4 -3.6 MHz). WRC-15 achieved agreement on some additional portions in other bands that were also allocated to mobile broadband services in order to be used in regions where there was no interference with other services.
To counteract the difficulties encountered in finding additional spectrum for IMT in bands below 6 GHz, WRC-15 decided to include studies in the agenda for the next WRC in 2019 for the identification of bands above 6 GHz that will allow technology to meet demand for greater capacity.
Amateur Radio Service: New allocation for amateur radio service in the frequency band 5351.5 – 5366.5 kHz will maintain stable communications over various distances, especially for use when providing communications in disaster situations and for relief operations.
Emergency & Disaster Relief: WRC-15 identified spectrum in the 694-894 MHz frequency band to facilitate mobile broadband communications for robust and reliable mission critical emergency services in public protection and disaster relief (PPDR), such as police, fire, ambulances and disaster response teams.
Search & Rescue: WRC-15 reinforced protection to Search and Rescue beacons that transmit in the 406-406.1 MHz frequency band signals to uplink to search and rescue satellites, such as the Cospas-Sarsat system. Resolution 205 was modified to ensure that frequency drift characteristics of radiosondes are taken into account when operating above 405 MHz to avoid drifting close to 406 MHz.
Allocations of spectrum in the 9-10 GHz frequency range will lead to the development of modern broadband sensing technologies and space-borne radars on active sensing EESS. Scientific and geo-information applications will provide high quality measurements in all weather conditions with enhanced applications for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, land use and large-area coastal surveillance.
Unmanned Aircraft & Wireless Avionics: WRC-15 opened the way for the development by ICAO of worldwide standards for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and identified the regulatory conditions that may be applied to such systems internationally. WRC-15 also agreed on spectrum for wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC) to allow for the heavy and expensive wiring used in aircraft to be replaced by wireless systems.
Flight Tracking: Agreement was reached on the allocation of radio-frequency spectrum for global flight tracking in civil aviation for improved safety. The frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz has been allocated to the aeronautical mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for reception by space stations of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) emissions from aircraft transmitters. This will facilitate reporting the position of aircraft equipped with ADS-B anywhere in the world, including oceanic, polar and other remote areas.
Maritime Communications: New applications for data exchange, using AIS technology, are intended to improve the safety of navigation. New allocations were made in the bands 161.9375-161.9625 MHz and 161.9875-162.0125 MHz to the maritime mobile-satellite service. Studies will continue on the compatibility between maritime mobile-satellite service (MMSS) in the downlink in the band 161.7875-161.9375 MHz and incumbent services in the same and adjacent frequency bands.
Road Safety: Radio-frequency spectrum needed for the operation of short-range high-resolution automotive radar has been allocated in the 79 GHz frequency band. This will provide a globally harmonized regulatory framework for automotive radar to prevent collisions and improve vehicular safety by reducing traffic accidents. According to UN data, more than 1.25 million fatalities occur each year on the roads around the world.
Broadband Satellite Systems: WRC-15 agreed to facilitate the global deployment of Earth Stations In Motion (ESIM) in the 19.7-20.2 and 29.5-30.0 GHz frequency bands in the fixed-satellite service (FSS), paving the way for satellite systems to provide global broadband connectivity for the transportation community. Earth stations on-board moving platforms, such as ships, trains and aircraft, will be able to communicate with high power multiple spot beam satellites, allowing transmission rates in the order of 10-50 Mbits/s.
ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao said, “In a world where radiocommunications are playing an increasingly important role in connecting people, I am convinced that the outcome of this conference will represent a major contribution in making the world a better – and safer – place for all.”
Francois Rancy, director, ITU Radiocommunication Bureau said, “The outcomes of WRC-15 are aimed at maintaining a stable, predictable and universally applied regulatory environment that secures long-term investments for the multi-trillion dollar ICT industry.”
WRC-15 decided that further studies regarding current and potential future reference time-scales are required, including the modification of coordinated universal time (UTC) and suppressing the so-called “leap second”. A report will be considered by the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023. Until then, UTC shall continue to be applied as described in Recommendation ITU‑R TF.460‑6 and as maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).
Around 3,300 participants, representing 162 out of ITU’s 193 member states attended the four-week conference from 2 to 27 November. Some 500 participants representing 130 other entities, including industry, also attended the conference as observers.