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The next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) is scheduled to take place from November 2 to 27 at the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland. In preparation for the Conference, Study Groups have
been meeting regularly in Geneva and elsewhere since the WRC-15 agenda was set in 2012.
Radio Amateurs have a profound interest in these meetings since our frequencies – and who can use them and how – are explicitly provided for in the international treaty which WRC-15 will update later this year.
The delegates who will vote on the Agenda Items at the Conference will
have before them a set of detailed briefing notes called Conference Preparatory Material (CPM), which summarize the recommendations for and against various proposed changes to the Radio Regulations. These documents were finalized by over 1,500 delegates at the second Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM2) which was held in late March at the Geneva International Conference Centre. In this article I am going to try to set out which of the Agenda Items may have an impact on Amateur Radio operations and I invite you to keep score as to how these play out at the WRC later this year.
Agenda Item 1.4 proposes a secondary allocation to the Amateur Service somewhere in 5250 to 5450 kHz. Going in to the Conference it is proposed that this be implemented by “one or more segments of spectrum not necessarily contiguous” in 5275 to 5450 kHz (or in 5350 to 5450 kHz). An option from China suggests a total of 15 kHz, but China and other administrations have not ruled out more spectrum. There is also a proposal for an undefined number of “spot” frequencies similar to what Canada and the US have now. Finally, the Russian Federation and others propose no allocation to Amateur Radio.
Canada has indicated a preference for two 25 kHz segments at 5330 and 5405 kHz; however, our partners in the CITEL (Inter-American) regional grouping have thus far favoured the more general proposal.
Agenda Item 1.6.1 proposes an additional 250 MHz as a primary allocation in Region 1 for the fixed-satellite service (earth-to-space and space-to-earth) somewhere in 10 to 17 GHz. The Amateur Radio Service has a secondary allocation here in 10 to 10.5 GHz. The studies which support this Agenda Item suggest that co-existence with existing users in 10 to 10.5 GHz may be difficult, and all the CPM proposals for an allocation are in the vicinity of 14 GHz. Again, this proposal is for an allocation in ITU Region 1 only.
Agenda Item 1.10 proposes additional spectrum to the mobile satellite service (earth-to-space and space-to-earth) in
22 to 26 GHz. Radio Amateurs have an allocation in 24 to 24.25 GHz of which 24.0 to 24.05 GHz is primary. None of the proposed methods of implementing this Agenda Item overlap our Amateur allocations and, barring unforeseen and unlikely changes during the Conference, there seems little threat to our 1.25 cm Amateur band.
Agenda Item 1.12 proposes an additional 600 MHz allocation for the Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EESS). All of the proposed methods for implementing this Agenda Item (excluding the “no change” method) recommend an allocation using some or all of the range 9.9 to 10.5 GHz. If allocated, this would overlap all or portions of the 10 to 10.5 GHz range where Amateurs have a secondary allocation. Text has been added to the CPM document highlighting the requirement that use of the extended allocation, if granted, should not jeopardize the Amateur Radio Service. Nonetheless, it is thought that the use and duty-cycle of these satellites, were they to share spectrum with us, should pose minimum risk to our Amateur microwave activities.
Agenda Item 1.18 proposes a primary allocation to the radiolocation service for use by vehicle collision-avoidance radar systems in 77.5
to 78 GHz.
The Amateur Radio Service
has a primary allocation here; however, our analysis of the proposed automotive radar application is that it should not cause undue distress to typical Amateur Radio operations in 77.5 to 78 GHz. Those operations are typically from mountain tops or a high building and are not expected to be impacted by emissions from vehicles on the surface. In general, the range of possible interference is estimated at 200 metres at the surface. There is an alternate proposal for 1.18 which would define vehicles to include non-surface vehicles, e.g., helicopters. Amateurs have made the case that our acceptance of this proposed allocation would be for an allocation involving surface vehicles only.
A final outcome of WRC-15 will be to finalize an agenda for the next WRC which is widely expected to be organized for 2018 or 2019.
There are a rather small number of national societies who have the opportunity and resources to be involved in the preparations for and deliberations during these Conferences. Canada is fortunate to be among them; first, by virtue of a cordial and fruitful working relationship with our regulator – Industry Canada – and, second, through the generosity of Canadian Amateurs in their support of the Defence of Amateur Radio Fund (DARF).
There is much more to follow later this year from the WRC-15 Conference so stay tuned to TCA for further updates.
Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN
Special Advisor WRC-15
Radio Amateurs of Canada