It's a Wrap: WRC-15 Concludes in Geneva


World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) concluded its deliberations on November 27 in Geneva, as heads of delegations sign the Final Acts that revise the Radio Regulations — the international treaty governing the use of radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. Some 3300 participants, representing 162 out of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) 193 member states, attended the 4 week conference. Another 500 or so participants, representing 130 other entities including industry, also attended as observers. Festus Daudu of Nigeria chaired WRC-15.

“A great deal has been achieved in the last 4 weeks, and the results will have a major impact on the future of the telecommunication sector in general and radiocommunications in particular,” ITU Radiocommunication Bureau (ITU-R) Director François Rancy said in a closing press release. “The outcomes of WRC-15 are aimed at maintaining a stable, predictable and universally applied regulatory environment that secures long-term investments for the multi-trillion dollar ICT industry.” WRC-15 addressed more than 40 topics related to frequency allocation and sharing.

The conference reached consensus on a new secondary allocation for Amateur Radio at 5351.5-5366.5 kHz with a power limit of 15 W effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP). Some Region 2 countries, but not the US, will be permitted up to 25 W EIRP. With this action — and despite conditions that are more restrictive than had been hoped at the start of the Conference — the Amateur Service has obtained its first new global HF allocation since 1979.

The 15 kHz band at 60 meters “will maintain stable communications over various distances, especially for use when providing communications in disaster situations and for relief operations,” an ITU news release said. The new band will not become available for use until the FCC addresses the WRC-15 Final Acts in a rule making proceeding and establishes operating parameters.

Threats by the mobile telephone/broadband industry in the vicinity of 10 GHz and 24 GHz have been averted for the time being, but are expected to be raised again at WRC-19 and/or WRC-23. The 144 and 420 MHz bands were excluded from the WRC-19 agenda item addressing short-duration (3 years) small satellites.

Agenda Item 1.12, addressing the Earth Exploration Satellite Service (10 GHz EESS), was approved at plenary with footnotes relevant to certain Middle East countries. The EESS allocation was tailored to avoid the Amateur-Satellite segment and poses no threat to terrestrial ham radio use of the band.

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) team at WRC-15 also focused its efforts on tweaking the agenda for WRC-19. Agenda Item 1.1 will consider 50-54 MHz harmonization in Region 1. A proposed agenda item to align the 160 meter allocation in Region 1 with the rest of the world did not make the cut.

Leading up to WRC-19, ITU-R will address an ambitious schedule of studies covering a wide range of services from Amateur Radio to broadcasting, mobile broadband, mobile satellite, fixed satellite, Earth stations on mobile platforms, and space exploration services.

ITU-R has been invited to study existing allocations to the space operation service below 1 GHz and, if no suitable frequencies can be identified, then possible new allocations, or an upgrade of the existing allocations, to the space operation service within the frequency ranges 150.05-174 MHz and 400.15-420 MHz should be considered.

ARRL Chief Technology Officer Brennan Price, N4QX, and Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA, served on the US delegation to WRC-15.

“I think it’s a miracle,” Rancy said at a closing press conference. “I’m always amazed that in 4 weeks we can produce 500 pages of very thick, very detailed, very complex regulations…without a single vote.”  — Thanks to ITU and RSGB