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Preparations Underway for WRC-12

09/22/2009

Approximately 200 participants came together in an ITU preliminary meeting that ended September 16 in Geneva, Switzerland in preparation for the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12). Six regional telecommunications organizations -- APT (Asia-Pacific), ASMG (Arab States), ATU (Africa), CEPT (Europe), CITEL (the Americas) and RCC (independent states of the former Soviet Union) -- were represented at the meeting. This meeting was part of a series of ongoing international and regional preparatory meetings to allow government and industry to address the far-reaching and complex agenda of WRC-12. ARRL Technical Relations Specialist Jonathan Siverling, WB3ERA, and IARU Region 1 Vice President Tafa Diop, 6W1KI, were among the participants.

WRC-12, which will be held in Geneva from January 23-February 17, 2012, will review the international treaty that governs radiocommunications -- the ITU Radio Regulations. The conference will be preceded by the Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-12), also to be held in Geneva, January 16-20, 2012.

The agenda for WRC-12, developed by the delegates at the last WRC in Geneva in 2007 (WRC-07), was formally adopted by the ITU Council in 2008. There are 25 agenda items addressing potential new or revised spectrum allocations to existing services. A key objective is the review of the international regulatory framework applicable to radiocommunications. This review should reflect the convergence of some radio services arising from the development of next-generation networks (NGN), as well as new radio applications and technologies. Of most interest to amateurs is agenda item 1.23, "to consider an allocation of about 15 kHz in parts of the band 415-526.5 kHz to the amateur service on a secondary basis, taking into account the need to protect existing services."

"This agenda item is the highest item on my long term priority list," said ARRL Technical Relations Manager Brennan Price, N4QX. "We are fortunate that this upcoming WRC presents an opportunity for a new secondary allocation in the medium waves. While the outcome is far from certain, our experience in other bands -- most notably 30 meters -- indicates Amateur Radio's compatibility with certain other services as a secondary user."

WRC-12 will focus on appropriate spectrum sharing mechanisms to make the best use of the digital dividend in the UHF and other frequency bands, providing new opportunities for radiocommunication services. It will also identify the spectrum requirements to increase security for both maritime and aeronautical transport services. Additional spectrum resources will also be identified for scientific and other radiocommunication services, specifically related to the environment, meteorology and climatology, as well as disaster prediction, mitigation and relief. Along with the introduction of more efficient digital services requiring less power consumption, WRC-12 will be a milestone to meet ITU's commitment to achieve climate neutrality with the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) as effective tools to combat climate change and its effects.

Price and Siverling are monitoring developments on a number of other agenda items that could affect Amateur Radio if they take unanticipated turns, including:

  •  Agenda item 1.14, considering requirements for and implementation of the radiolocation service (radar) between 30-300 MHz.

  • Agenda item 1.15, considering possible allocations between 3-50 MHz for oceanographic radar applications.

  •  Agenda item 1.19, considering regulatory measures to enable software-defined and cognitive radio systems.

  •  Agenda item 1.22, examining the effect of emissions from short-range devices.

"Oceanographic radar is perhaps our biggest defensive issue," Price said. "Fortunately, its proponents have acknowledged that sharing with Amateur Radio would be problematic."

The ITU preparatory meetings ahead of WRC-12 provide an opportunity to exchange information and views on the ongoing studies regarding WRC-12 agenda items, as well as on the common proposals and positions of the regional groups and other organizations. The discussions in this meeting addressed all WRC-12 agenda items and identified those deserving special consideration for African countries, including the sensitive issue related to the operation of security systems for ships and ports and the shared use of the planned digital TV spectrum by other services.

The Director of ITU's Radiocommunication Bureau Valery Timofeev noted that the agenda for WRC-12 was likely to be as complex as the previous World Radiocommunication Conference held in 2007. "We need to continue the trend toward increasing the number of common and coordinated proposals," he explained. "This process, which highlights the great spirit of international cooperation and consensus building at ITU, has proved to be increasingly successful in the WRC process." Timofeev added that the level of participation at the meeting indicated the importance of the WRC process "to improve regulatory procedures, to provide frequency and orbit resources for new technologies and to strengthen the technical framework for the operation of services."

Recognizing that WRC-12 is an important event for the future of information and communication technologies, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, said the forthcoming conference will be a landmark in achieving ITU's connectivity targets: "WRC-12 will be held only three years ahead of 2015 -- the target date to connect all villages, towns and cities, universities and schools in the world and to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If there is any chance to meet these goals, we must rely on ICTs -- omnipresent tools with profound implications for all economic sectors -- to accelerate the process and bridge the digital divide." -- Thanks to the ITU for some information



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