RCR News and Unstrung report the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03), which ended today, produced significant expansion of 5 GHz wireless service and other agreements after four weeks of negotiations between representatives from countries across the world.
The world conference meets every four years to update the allocation of radio spectrum at a global level. Nearly 190 countries were represented at the conference — organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Some 44 major issues were on the agenda, most related to global radio regulations, including spectrum rules.
WRC-03 approved a global allocation of 455 megahertz at 5 GHz which is now expected to be commercially exploited for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed wireless broadband applications around the world.
Although power is limited to 1 watt EIRP, the mid 5 GHz frequencies can now be used outdoors and will be available around the world, enabling manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and lower deployment costs. The conference allocated the 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz bands for license-exempt wireless applications. Outdoor use of the 5250-5350 MHz band is subject to conditions designed to prevent Wi-Fi interference to satellite operations. The 100 MHz of spectrum (5.150-5.250 GHz) will be allocated for indoor WLAN use only.
In the United States, the FCC in May launched a proceeding to add the new 5 GHz band while house and Senate bills are pushing for additional 5 GHz spectrum to fuel wireless Internet development in the United States.
Highlights of WRC 2003 include:
- U.S. officials declared victory in securing key spectrum agreements for unlicensed wireless technologies, airline high-speed Internet access and modernized global positioning system satellite service.
- Coordination of radionavigation satellite systems, between the U.S. military-controlled GPS system, Russia’s Glosnass and Europe’s planned Galileo system.
- Satellite services like Boeing’s Connexion got 14Ghz – 14.5Ghz for their phased array aircraft to satellite links, extending the secondary mobile satellite service allocation to include the aeronautical mobile satellite service.
- A resolution has been agreed to that should pave the way for wideband and broadband public safety and disaster relief applications. Currently most such networks use narrow bands that can only handle voice and low data rates, typically in channel bandwidths of 25 KHz or less. The new rules mean these data rates will be substantially increased, initially in the range 384 to 500kbit/s for wide-band solutions, and 1-100Mbit/s for applications using broadband technologies.
- Ham radio operators got shortwave broadcasters out of 7100 to 7200 kHz in Regions 1 and 3 to make room for the Amateur Service.
Graig Barratt, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Atheros Communications, said the Geneva agreement was a “defining moment for the WLAN industry as a whole“. The decision will allow 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g networks to offer “nine times” as many non-overlapping channels as 802.11b and 802.11g-only networks in the US and seven times as many non-overlapping channels in Europe, he said.