WRC-12 Begins

The U.S. Delegation to the World Radiocommunication Conference held a press conference in Geneva, yesterday, reviewing the goals of the US delegation.

WRC-12 starts today in Geneva and runs through 17 February 2012. Every 3-5 years, the nations of the world meet at WRC to coordinate telecommunications frequencies, standards and policies.

At yesterday’s press conference, Ambassador Decker Anstrom, Head of the U.S. Delegation, Ambassador Philip Verveer, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling, U.S. Department of Commerce, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, FCC Commissioner Rob McDowell, and Richard Beaird, Deputy Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, overviewed the U.S. goals.

“Our priority objective for WRC-12 is to set the framework for the important debate which will take place between now and WRC 2015 about how to allocate more spectrum for mobile broadband services,” said Decker Anstrom, head of the U.S. delegation to the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference . “This is a pressing need in the United States, and we find it’s a pressing demand by many other administrations across the globe.”

While no decisions on spectrum allocation are expected to be made at WRC-12, the current meeting will set the stage for technical work on the issue over the next three and a half years, culminating in decisions on allocation being made at the next WRC in late 2015.

A key focus of WRC-12 is the management of satellite orbital slots and associated spectrum resources, says TV Technology. Other topics on the agenda include mobile broadband, the development of Ultra High-Definition Television (UHDTV), command and control of drone aircraft, and the use of “digital dividend” spectrum freed by the worldwide DTV transition.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted:


At the last World Radio Conference the iPhone had just been introduced. Smart Phones were a new idea. The tablet, the iPad and other tablets had not yet been introduced.

Today as we sit here in 2012, last year alone there were about 500 million Smart Phone subscription devices sold around the world. There are now about one billion Smart Phone subscribers globally.

When the World Radio Conference reconvenes in 2015 after this, that number will be at least double. There are projections that by then we will have hit five billion global mobile broadband subscribers.

We already know the extraordinary opportunities that this technology represents for driving economic growth, for advancing education, health care, public safety, and more. And it makes the agenda item for WRC-15 that my colleagues have discussed, extremely important. Extremely important to the United States, I believe extremely important to all members of WRC in the ITU, and very important that countries work together to seize the opportunities of mobile broadband.

It’s worth focusing for a minute on what the challenge is. Smart Phones, mobile broadband devices place a demand on spectrum, on radio frequency that is a lot more than the devices that preceded it. Not 10 percent more, 20 percent more, not even 50 percent more or double. An averagely used SmartPhone places a demand on spectrum that’s 24 times more than the feature phones that preceded it. Tablets place a demand on spectrum that’s about 120 times more.

So the efforts to improve the efficient use of spectrum and to free up more spectrum for mobile broadband and to look at a new generation of innovative policies including spectrum sharing are incredibly important, or in both the United States and around the world, we risk losing out on enormous economic and social opportunities.

So again, this agenda item for WRC-15 is very important, I believe, for all countries involved. I’m glad to see, as we all are, that countries in Europe and Asia Pacific and elsewhere have made similar proposals. I was pleased that last week the ITU Radio Communication Assembly approved the IMT Advanced Standard. We will all benefit from global harmonization of standards when it comes to mobile broadband.


The NTIA did An Assessment of the Near-Term Viability of Accommodating Wireless Broadband Systems in the 1675-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 3500-3650 MHz, and 4200-4220 MHz, 4380-4400 MHz Bands (pdf) and found that huge swaths of coastal areas may have significant interference challenges when ship and aircraft radar use those bands (as well as 5 GHz).

It’s a difficult chess game made more challenging by the desire for international cooperation.

One aspect of these proposals is of concern to the Amateur Radio Relay League; the inclusion to allocate 5250-5450 kHz to the Radio location service on a primary basis (pdf). It’s right in the middle of the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band.

Would the United States knowingly cause degradation to the WiFi band? It seems very unlikely. Codar’s radar sensors, for example, measure ocean wave conditions at 5 GHz. There aren’t many WiFi hotspots 20 miles from shore. But ship or aircraft systems may be another story. Unmanned Aircraft Systems, at 5.030-5.150 GHz, will also be considered for unmanned aerial systems. That sits just beneath the low end of the 5 GHz (unlicensed) Wi-Fi/WiMax band.

Presumably, any proposal to use international WiFi bands would not have serious consequences for consumers and vendors of WiFi gear. Anything using the 5GHz band may get a free ride on volume enabled by world-wide WiFi.

“The aim is to ensure reliable radio services are available everywhere and at any time enabling people to live and travel safely while enjoying high performance radiocommunications,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré.

Dr. Tarek Al Awadhi, of the United Arab Emirates, and head of the Spectrum and International Affairs Section at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRI), was selected as a chair of WRC-12 which opened in Geneva yesterday.

Over 3,000 participants, representing more than 150 out of the ITU’s 193 member states are expected to attend the conference, with about 100 observers from among ITU’s 700 private sector members also attending. The last WRC meeting to hash out planetary telecommunications agreements was in 2007 with WRC-07.

Coordinating digital radio and television in the frequency bands 174-230 MHz and 470-862 MHz for parts of Region 1 (Europe and Africa) and Region 3 (Asia and Australasia) is one priority.

Here are the ITU-R Preparatory Studies for WRC-12. The NTIA is responsible for coordinating the Federal government’s participation in the ITU’s WRC meeting and has prepared a variety of Documents and Proposals with FCC preparing additional recommendations for WRC-12. Amateur Radio has their own agenda for WRC-12.

Global smartphone shipments will reach 1.03 billion units in 2015, resulting in a global smartphone share of 54.4 percent, reports iSuppli Mobile Handset Market Tracker. Smartphones accounted for only 15.8 percent of the total cellphone market in 2009.

Some 478 million smartphones were expected to ship world-wide in 2011, making the world-wide share about 32.5 percent.

Related Dailywireless articles include; 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference, IMT-Advanced: Now Official ITU Standard, LTE Situation Report, Smartphones: 1 Billion by 2015, World Radio Conference Wrap (2007), WRC Wraps Up (2003), EU: Global LTE Roaming at 1.8 GHz , WiMAX: No Satellite Interference says WARC, WiMAX Now ITU Standard, Mobile Satellite on the Move

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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