World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) are held every three to four years to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits. Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by the ITU Council, which takes into account recommendations made by previous world radiocommunication conferences. The general scope of the agenda of world radiocommunication conferences is established four to six years in advance, with the final agenda set by the ITU Council two years before the conference, with the concurrence of a majority of Member States. Under the terms of the ITU Constitution, a WRC can:
- revise the Radio Regulations and any associated Frequency assignment and allotment Plans;
- address any radiocommunication matter of worldwide character;
- instruct the Radio Regulations Board and the Radiocommunication Bureau, and review their activities;
- determine Questions for study by the Radiocommunication Assembly and its Study Groups in preparation for future Radiocommunication Conferences.
On the basis of contributions from administrations, the Radiocommunication Study Groups, and other sources (see Article 19 of the Convention (Geneva, 1992)) concerning the regulatory, technical, operational and procedural matters to be considered by World and Regional Radiocommunication Conferences, the Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM) shall prepare a consolidated report to be used in support of the work of such conferences.
RESOLUTION 1399 (C20)
Agenda of the World Radiocommunication Conference
- on the basis of proposals from administrations, taking account of the results of WRC‑19 and the Report of the Conference Preparatory Meeting, and with due regard to the requirements of existing and future services in the frequency bands under consideration, to consider and take appropriate action in respect of the following items:
- to consider, based on the results of ITU‑R studies, possible measures to address, in the frequency band 4 800-4 990 MHz, protection of stations of the aeronautical and maritime mobile services located in international airspace and waters from other stations located within national territories, and to review the power flux-density criteria in No. 5.441B in accordance with Resolution 223 (Rev.WRC‑19);
- to consider identification of the frequency bands 3 300-3 400 MHz, 3 600‑3 800 MHz, 6 425-7 025 MHz, 7 025-7 125 MHz and 10.0-10.5 GHz for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), including possible additional allocations to the mobile service on a primary basis, in accordance with Resolution 245 (WRC‑19);
- to consider primary allocation of the frequency band 3 600‑3 800 MHz to the mobile service in Region 1 and take appropriate regulatory actions, in accordance with Resolution 246 (WRC‑19);
- to consider, in accordance with Resolution 247 (WRC‑19), the use of high-altitude platform stations as IMT base stations (HIBS) in the mobile service in certain frequency bands below 2.7 GHz already identified for IMT, on a global or regional level;
- to review the spectrum use and spectrum needs of existing services in the frequency band 470-960 MHz in Region 1 and consider possible regulatory actions in the frequency band 470‑694 MHz in Region 1 on the basis of the review, in accordance with Resolution 235 (WRC‑15);
- to consider, in accordance with Resolution 772 (WRC‑19), regulatory provisions to facilitate radiocommunications for sub-orbital vehicles;
- to consider a new aeronautical mobile-satellite (R) service allocation in accordance with Resolution 428 (WRC‑19) for both the Earth-to-space and space-to-Earth directions of aeronautical VHF communications in all or part of the frequency band 117.975-137 MHz, while preventing any undue constraints on existing VHF systems operating in the aeronautical mobile (R) service, in the aeronautical radionavigation service, and in adjacent frequency bands;
- to consider, on the basis of ITU‑R studies in accordance with Resolution 171 (WRC‑19), appropriate regulatory actions, with a view to reviewing and, if necessary, revising Resolution 155 (Rev.WRC‑19) and No. 5.484B to accommodate the use of fixed-satellite service networks by control and non-payload communications of unmanned aircraft systems;
- to review Appendix 27 of the Radio Regulations and consider appropriate regulatory actions and updates based on ITU‑R studies, in order to accommodate digital technologies for commercial aviation safety-of-life applications in existing HF bands allocated to the aeronautical mobile (R) service and ensure coexistence of current HF systems alongside modernized HF systems, in accordance with Resolution 429 (WRC‑19);
- to conduct studies on spectrum needs, coexistence with radiocommunication services and regulatory measures for possible new allocations for the aeronautical mobile service for the use of non-safety aeronautical mobile applications, in accordance with Resolution 430 (WRC‑19);
- to consider possible regulatory actions to support the modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and the implementation of e‑navigation, in accordance with Resolution 361 (Rev.WRC‑19);
- to conduct, and complete in time for WRC‑23, studies for a possible new secondary allocation to the Earth exploration-satellite service (active) for spaceborne radar sounders within the range of frequencies around 45 MHz, taking into account the protection of incumbent services, including in adjacent bands, in accordance with Resolution 656 (Rev.WRC‑19);
- to consider a possible upgrade of the allocation of the frequency band 14.8-15.35 GHz to the space research service, in accordance with Resolution 661 (WRC‑19);
- to review and consider possible adjustments of the existing frequency allocations or possible new primary frequency allocations to the Earth exploration-satellite service (passive) in the frequency range 231.5-252 GHz, to ensure alignment with more up-to-date remote-sensing observation requirements, in accordance with Resolution 662 (WRC‑19);
- to harmonize the use of the frequency band 12.75-13.25 GHz (Earth-to-space) by earth stations on aircraft and vessels communicating with geostationary space stations in the fixed-satellite service globally, in accordance with Resolution 172 (WRC‑19);
- to study and develop technical, operational and regulatory measures, as appropriate, to facilitate the use of the frequency bands 17.7-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.3 GHz and 19.7-20.2 GHz (space-to-Earth) and 27.5-29.1 GHz and 29.5-30 GHz (Earth-to-space) by non-geostationary fixed-satellite service earth stations in motion, while ensuring due protection of existing services in those frequency bands, in accordance with Resolution 173 (WRC‑19);
- to determine and carry out, on the basis of ITU‑R studies in accordance with Resolution 773 (WRC‑19), the appropriate regulatory actions for the provision of inter-satellite links in specific frequency bands, or portions thereof, by adding an inter-satellite service allocation where appropriate;
- to consider studies relating to spectrum needs and potential new allocations to the mobile-satellite service for future development of narrowband mobile-satellite systems, in accordance with Resolution 248 (WRC‑19);
- to consider a new primary allocation to the fixed-satellite service in the space-to-Earth direction in the frequency band 17.3-17.7 GHz in Region 2, while protecting existing primary services in the band, in accordance with Resolution 174 (WRC‑19);
- to examine the revised ITU‑R Recommendations incorporated by reference in the Radio Regulations communicated by the Radiocommunication Assembly, in accordance with further resolves of Resolution 27 (Rev.WRC‑19), and to decide whether or not to update the corresponding references in the Radio Regulations, in accordance with the principles contained in resolves of that Resolution;
- to consider such consequential changes and amendments to the Radio Regulations as may be necessitated by the decisions of the conference;
- in accordance with Resolution 95 (Rev.WRC‑19), to review the Resolutions and Recommendations of previous conferences with a view to their possible revision, replacement or abrogation;
- to review, and take appropriate action on, the Report from the Radiocommunication Assembly submitted in accordance with Nos. 135 and 136 of the ITU Convention;
- to identify those items requiring urgent action by the radiocommunication study groups in preparation for the next world radiocommunication conference;
- to consider possible changes, in response to Resolution 86 (Rev. Marrakesh, 2002) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, on advance publication, coordination, notification and recording procedures for frequency assignments pertaining to satellite networks, in accordance with Resolution 86 (Rev.WRC‑07), in order to facilitate the rational, efficient and economical use of radio frequencies and any associated orbits, including the geostationary-satellite orbit;
- to consider and take appropriate action on requests from administrations to delete their country footnotes or to have their country name deleted from footnotes, if no longer required, taking into account Resolution 26 (Rev.WRC‑19);
- to consider and approve the Report of the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau, in accordance with Article 7 of the ITU Convention;
- on the activities of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector since WRC‑19:
– In accordance with Resolution 657 (Rev.WRC‑19), review the results of studies relating to the technical and operational characteristics, spectrum requirements and appropriate radio service designations for space weather sensors with a view to describing appropriate recognition and protection in the Radio Regulations without placing additional constraints on incumbent services;
– Review the amateur service and the amateur-satellite service allocations in the frequency band 1 240‑1 300 MHz to determine if additional measures are required to ensure protection of the radionavigation-satellite service (space-to-Earth) operating in the same band in accordance with Resolution 774 (WRC‑19);
– Study the use of International Mobile Telecommunication systems for fixed wireless broadband in the frequency bands allocated to the fixed service on a primary basis, in accordance with Resolution 175 (WRC‑19);
- on any difficulties or inconsistencies encountered in the application of the Radio Regulations;1 and
- on action in response to Resolution 80 (Rev.WRC‑07);
- to recommend to the ITU Council items for inclusion in the agenda for the next world radiocommunication conference, and items for the preliminary agenda of future conferences, in accordance with Article 7 of the ITU Convention and Resolution 804 (Rev.WRC‑19).
This agenda sub-item is strictly limited to the Report of the Director on any difficulties or inconsistencies encountered in the application of the Radio Regulations and the comments from administrations. Administrations are invited to inform the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau of any difficulties or inconsistencies encountered in the Radio Regulations.
SAMENA Council represents its Terrestrial & Satellite operator community in the WRC-23 to witness revision of Radio Regulations in view of global IMT and space sustainability requirements
SAMENA Council, represented by CEO & board member, Bocar BA, is participating in the WRC-23, hosted by TDRA-UAE in Dubai. WRC-23 has brought together governments for negotiations on the allocation of radio-frequency spectrum.
In a message delivered during the WRC-23 on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General H.E. António Guterres, it was acknowledged that “Radio frequencies, whether on Earth or in space, form the backbone of advanced communications for all of humanity. From education to healthcare, from agriculture to climate monitoring, expanding radiocommunication services and bridging the digital divide are key to reducing inequalities and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals."
ITU's Secretary-General H.E. Doreen Bogdan-Martin emphasized that “We are at an inflection point in tech history, and radiocommunications are at the top of the global agenda... Equitably managed spectrum and the associated satellite orbits are among the best tools in our toolbox to make good on our commitment to build a digital future that works for everyone and for our planet."
Director-General of TDRA-UAE, H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, anticipating the Conferences’ successful dialogue and consensus on critical matters that concern the digital future, stated: "While today's world is full of challenges, this conference comes to set the course and direct the compass toward sustainable human development by updating the Radio Regulations and establishing international consensus on the frequencies necessary for the coming era. With the broad horizons, it brings in the fields of smart cities, digital economy, knowledge society, space and others, we are confident that this conference will achieve the results that meet the expectations and aspirations of our peoples."
Bocar BA, representing SAMENA Council and its community of Telecom Operators and Tech Providers, stated that: "SAMENA Council extends congratulations to the TDRA-UAE on hosting and organizing the WRC-23 in Dubai. The Industry has confidence in this collaboration between the TDRA and ITU to help steer consensus-building on radiocommunication matters that are very important for governments and Telecom Operators alike. As negotiations on the allocation of spectrum carry on, building an inclusive, sustainable digital future requires the right resources and timely enablement for all stakeholders. Through the efforts of the ITU and TDRA, and with the support of the Member States, particularly the regulatory authorities, we can hope for great outcomes from the WRC-23."
Bocar BA, who also participated earlier in a session focused on the future of space economy, led by the Communication & Space Technology Commission (CST) of Saudi Arabia, further stated that "We are grateful to policymakers and space industry leaders for highlighting the importance of space sustainability, and for emphasizing on the requirements for shaping a sustainable and prosperous digital future in this age when both digital and space economies are integral to global sustainability."
The WRC is organized every four years by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). WRC-23’s ongoing proceedings, scheduled from November 20 to December 15, are focused on updating the Radio Regulations (the international treaty governing the use of spectrum and geostationary and non-geostationary satellite orbits). The Radio Regulations ensure that the use of the radio-frequency spectrum is rational, equitable, efficient, economical, and signal-interference free. Therefore, the ongoing review and revision of the Regulations at the WRC-23, is critical for supporting the introduction of new radio-based technologies, systems, technologies and services and their growing spectrum requirements, while continuing to protect the vital radio services that are central to the digital infrastructure. The ITU Membership, in both national and global interest to pursue innovative technologies, mitigate environmental impact, connect the unconnected communities everywhere, and to help focus on land, sea, air, and space with a new spirit and new objectives, has embarked on this undertaking to help bring digital-led prosperity for billions of people across the world.
The WRC-23 agenda items include:
- Identifying additional frequency bands for the continued development of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), including the use of high-altitude platform stations as IMT base stations for the universal deployment of wireless networks.
- Improvements to the international regulatory framework for geostationary orbit (GSO) and non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellites while promoting equitable access for all countries.
- Use of satellite technologies for broadband services to improve connectivity, particularly in remote areas.
- New spectrum to enhance radiocommunications in the aeronautical mobile service, including by satellite, and to facilitate the use of the space research and Earth exploration-satellite services for climate monitoring, weather prediction and other scientific missions.
- The modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
- The regulatory framework for the use of earth stations in motion on board aircraft and ships for communication with GSO and NGSO satellites.
- The future of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) broadcasting band which has implications for television broadcast, program-making and special events, as well as public protection and disaster relief.
The proceedings of the WRC-23, including those in the Radiocommunication Assembly, among other outcomes, have so far helped achieve:
- agreement on “IMT-2030" as the technical reference for the 6th generation of International Mobile Telecommunications;
- revision of ITU-R Resolution 65, paving the way for studies on the compatibility of current regulations with potential 6th generation IMT radio interface technologies for 2030 and beyond;
- adoption of the new Recommendation ITU-R M. 2160 on the “IMT-2030 Framework," setting the basis for the development of IMT-2030. The next phase will be the definition of relevant requirements and evaluation criteria for potential radio interface technologies (RIT);
- adoption of a new resolution on the use of IMT technologies for fixed wireless broadband;
- in accordance with Resolution 219 (Bucharest, 2022), adoption of a new resolution on space sustainability to facilitate the long-term sustainable use of radio-frequency spectrum and associated satellite orbit resources used by space services. This will be supportive of further cooperation with other United Nations organizations and beneficial to the satellite industry;
- adoption of a resolution on gender equality to strengthen, accelerate and widen the active involvement of women in the work of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).
WRC-23 was preceded by the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly which met in Dubai from 13-17 November to establish the structure, working methods and program of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector. Thousands of industry participants are taking part in WRC-23, including delegates from ITU Member States and ITU Radiocommunication Sector Members representing international organizations, such as SAMENA Telecommunications Council, equipment manufacturers, network operators and industry forums attending as observers.
World Radiocommunication Conference 2019: An Opportunity to Revisit Our Digital Development Priorities and Readiness
Bocar A. BA
Chief Executive Officer & Board Member
SAMENA Telecommunications Council
Decisions taken during the upcoming global WRC-19 Conference will set the direction for the use of spectrum throughout the world for the next several years; a time period during which the Industry is working tirelessly to develop 5G. It is, therefore, important that the voice of Operators be heard through SAMENA Council, which is an ITU-D Sector Member.
SAMENA Council hopes that close communication of priorities among the Regional Administrations as well as the Private Sector may lead us to a win-win situation for all.
The most important and presently relevant issue for Telecom Operators on the WRC-19 agenda is the 5G cellular topic in Agenda Item 1.13, which states:
“To consider identification of frequency bands for the future development of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), including possible additional allocations to the mobile service on a primary basis, in accordance with Resolution 238 (WRC-15)”
For SAMENA Council, which represents Telecom Operators and exercises its role in serving regional Regulatory Authorities as a sector-development partner, the core issue of the identification of spectrum to provide commercially viable options for the next-generation of mobile technologies, commonly referred to as 5G, is of immense relevance to the SA-ME-NA region’s digital development efforts and national economic transformation goals, defined in various national ICT visions that the Council fully supports.
The bands under prospective consideration at the WRC-19 for 5G have a variety of complex sharing issues with both allocations to the same-band as well as to adjacent-band users. Several inter-service interference frequency pairs have also been investigated by the ITU-R, and it is observed that, at the millimeter-wave frequencies, national differences in spectrum use are much easier to resolve without interference than in the VHF and UHF bands. However, such differences have a potential impact on the economies of scale in equipment development and production and interoperability issues when users travel to a country with different band plans. Thus, while a long list of bands is under discussion, it is yet to be confirmed if all are, in fact, commercially viable or attractive at all.
Under such a complex situation, Regulators in the region have expressed the need for SAMENA Council to assist in addressing the cross-border spectrum interference issues, which could compromise 5G development and its proliferation in markets, such as Saudi Arabia. Considering also that, as in other 5G-prime regions, Telecom Operators in the SA-ME-NA need and want access to commercially attractive bands for mobile broadband and 5G both in the short and medium terms, SAMENA Council hopes that close communication of priorities among the Regional Administrations as well as the Private Sector may lead us to a win-win situation for all.
We may realize that WRC-19 presents itself as a much-needed opportunity to bridge the rising digital divides across the three ITU spectrum Regions.
The fulfillment of grand sustainable development goals and our collective readiness to tackle the world’s prevailing issues, which can be addressed effectively through the ICTs, merit that the post WRC-19 spectrum situation around the globe should be much better than how it is prior to the Conference. We may realize that WRC-19 presents itself as a much-needed opportunity to bridge the rising digital divides across the three ITU spectrum Regions.
SAMENA Council WRC-19 Monitor: Pioneer Spectrum Bands Identified and Key Terrestrial and Satellite Parameters Agreed to Support 5G Mobile Broadband Connectivity
The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) has concluded and it has brought forth a set of impactful agreements from Member States concerning the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbital positions. The agreements arrived at the Conference will enable new communication technologies while ensuring protection of existing services.
For SAMENA Council, which represents Telecom Operators and exercises its role in serving regional Regulatory Authorities as a sector-development partner, the core issue of the identification of spectrum to provide commercially viable options for the next-generation of mobile technologies, commonly referred to as 5G, going into WRC-19, was of immense relevance to the SA-ME-NA region’s digital development efforts and national economic transformation goals, defined in various national ICT visions that the Council fully supports.
As was expected, new spectrum allocations have been agreed for 5G (IMT-2020). The global Conference not only identified additional globally harmonized (millimeter wave) frequency bands for International Mobile Telecommunications, but has opened doors to facilitate diverse usage scenarios for enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, such as those that will become the hallmark of smart-city implementation; sustainable communities; improved attention and approach toward climate change; healthcare management; renewable energy; and more efficient agricultural practices and food production.
Special considerations for protection from harmful radio-frequency interference were awarded to satellite services supporting meteorology and climatology that aim to safeguard human life and natural resources, and systems used by radio astronomers for deep space exploration. Steps were also taken to ensure that radio astronomy stations would be protected from any harmful radio interference from other space stations or satellite systems in orbit.
Some of the most notable outcomes of WRC-19 include:
- Additional bands for IMT identified in the 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, 45.5-47 GHz, 47.2-48.2 and 66-71 GHz bands, facilitating development of 5G mobile networks.
- Additional frequency bands for High-altitude platform stations (HAPS) identified to facilitate telecommunications within a wide coverage area below for affordable broadband access in rural and remote areas.
- Regulatory provisions for WiFi networks revised to accommodate both indoor and outdoor usage and the growth in demand for wireless access systems, including RLANs for end-user radio connections to public or private core networks, such as WiFi, while limiting their interference into existing satellite services.
- Regulatory changes introduced to facilitate rational, efficient and economical use of radio frequencies and associated orbits, including the geostationary-satellite orbit.
- Standard approved to integrate ICTs in evolving Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to connect vehicles, improve traffic management and assist in safer driving.
- Non-Geostationary Satellites Regulatory procedures established for non-geostationary satellite constellations in the fixed-satellite service, opening the skies to next-generation communication capabilities, considering mega-constellations of satellites consisting of hundreds to thousands of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit are becoming a popular solution for global telecommunications, as well as remote sensing, space and upper atmosphere research, meteorology, astronomy, technology demonstration and education.
- Protection of frequency assignments for Broadcasting-satellite service (BSS) ensured, providing a priority mechanism for developing countries to regain access to spectrum orbit resources.
Key Outcomes of WRC-19 Conference in Brief
The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC‑19) concluded on 22 November with agreements reached by some 3400 delegates from 163 Member States. These agreements were enshrined in the provisional Final Acts of the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the global use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.
- Additional globally harmonized frequency bands were identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), including IMT‑2020 (otherwise known as 5G mobile), facilitating diverse usage scenarios for enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications and ultrareliable and low-latency communications.
- Protections were accorded to the Earthexploration satellite service (EESS) as well as meteorological and other passive services in adjacent bands, such as the space research service (SRS) to ensure that space-based monitoring of the Earth and its atmosphere remain unhindered.
- Satellite services supporting meteorology and climatology that aim to safeguard human life and natural resources will be protected from harmful radio-frequency interference, as will systems used by radio astronomers for deep space exploration.
- Radio astronomy stations will be protected from any harmful radio interference from other space stations or satellite systems in orbit.
- New orbital slots were opened up for broadcasting satellites, providing developing countries with the opportunity to regain access to spectrum orbit resources thanks to a priority mechanism especially set for them.
- A stable regulatory framework was defined for non-geostationary satellite orbit (non GSO) systems based on a milestone process enabling mega constellations to rapidly come to fruition. This will ensure that more affordable means of connectivity can be offered to citizens of all countries.
- Earth stations in motion will enable connectivity in planes, ships, and trains.
- The provision of a truly global maritime distress and safety system was ensured and expanded.
- A new Recommendation was approved on Intelligent Transport Systems towards connecting vehicles, improving traffic
management and assisting safe driving.
- Measures were taken to ensure themcontinuous assistance and support for the timely implementation of new technologies, including 4G and 5G networks and services, in Palestine.
- The conference declared the commitment of the Sector to gender equality, andmgender balance.
- WRC‑19 agreed to recommend to the ITU Council that a World Radiocommunication Conference be held in 2023 (WRC‑23) for a maximum period of four weeks. WRC‑19 agreed on over twenty agenda items for WRC‑23, and decided to invite the ITU Council to finalize the agenda.
- WRC‑19 also agreed to invite the Council to arrange for the convening of a World Radiocommunication Conference in 2027 (WRC‑27), and for the Council to finalize the agenda for that conference.
Enabling 5G deployment
While identifying the frequency bands 24.25–27.5 GHz, 37–43.5 GHz, 45.5–47 GHz, 47.2–48.2 and 66–71 GHz for the deployment of 5G networks, WRC 19 also took measures to ensure appropriate protection of the Earth exploration satellite services, including meteorological and other passive services in adjacent bands.In total, delegates at WRC 19 identified more than 8 times more spectrum for IMT than was identified for IMT before the Conference. 17.25 GHz of spectrum was identified for IMT after the Conference, in comparison with the 1.9 GHz of spectrum identified before WRC 19. Out of this number, 14.75 GHz of spectrum has been harmonized worldwide, reaching 85% of global harmonization.
The fulfillment of grand sustainable development goals and our collective readiness to tackle the world’s prevailing issues, which can be addressed effectively through the ICTs, will now be a function of the post WRC-19 spectrum situation around the globe. SAMENA Council anticipates that agreements achieved during WRC-19 will help bridge the rising digital divides across the three ITU spectrum Regions and will help steer accelerated IMT-2020 development across the SA-ME-NA region and beyond.