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World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 Enters Its Third Week

11/11/2019

Intense discussions of the most contentious agenda items marked the second week of World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), but very little was resolved.

“It is clear that long days and nights are ahead in the last 2 weeks,” International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, observed. Representatives of the IARU and its member-societies — 14 in all — are attending all or part of the conference. IARU is admitted in a non-advisory capacity. Those representing IARU may attend meetings but may not participate unless asked by the chairman to provide information.

“That does happen occasionally, but most of our talking with delegates occurs in the hallways during breaks — in other words, lobbying,” explained Sumner, who this week reported on where issues affecting the amateur services stand at the midway point of the conference.

50 MHz in Region 1: While a couple of details remain to be worked out as to how other existing services in Region 1 (Europe, Africa, and the Mideast) will be protected from interference, there is agreement that the amateur service should gain entry at 50 MHz in the international Table of Frequency Allocations for Region 1. The present 6-meter allocations in Regions 2 and 3 will be unchanged. Region 1 administrations came to the conference holding disparate views on this agenda item, ranging from a 4 MHz primary allocation to no allocation at all. Sumner said a delicate compromise led to a positive outcome.

“While it is too early to celebrate, we are cautiously optimistic that the compromise will hold,” Sumner reported. In a separate report, Radio Amateurs of Canada Special Advisor Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN, said that hammering out a 6-meter Region 1 allocation “has been a long and frustrating process,” and that a 4 MHz primary allocation similar to that available in Regions 2 and 3 is an unlikely outcome.

Future Agenda Items: The IARU is not seeking any agenda items for future WRCs at this conference. With the spectrum from 8.3 kHz to 275 GHz fully allocated and some bands above 275 GHz already identified for particular uses, any proposal for new allocations involves sharing with one or more incumbent services.

“The pressures for spectrum access to accommodate new uses for commercial purposes are intense; for an established service such as ours, any WRC that does not reduce our own useful spectrum access is a success,” Sumner said.

The notion of including 144 – 146 MHz in a study of non-safety aeronautical mobile service applications has not resurfaced at WRC-19. The IARU is, however, concerned about a proposed item for WRC-23, “Review of the amateur service and the amateur-satellite service allocations to ensure the protection of the radionavigation-satellite service (space-to-Earth) in the frequency band 1240 – 1300 MHz.”

The Amateur Radio Service is secondary in this band, and the Amateur-Satellite Service is permitted to operate in the Earth-to-space direction on a non-interference basis in the band 1260 – 1270 MHz. In the international Radio Regulations, this is all the protection a primary service such as radionavigation-satellite service (RNSS) requires.

A single, well-documented and promptly resolved case of interference to a Galileo (GPS) receiver 5 years ago prompted the proposed agenda item. “Given the relatively modest density and numbers of amateur transmissions in the band, we view the Galileo-oriented proposal for an agenda item as disproportionate,” Sumner said. “The IARU recognizes the concern and does not want the amateur service to affect the operation of the Galileo system in any way.”

The IARU is following an agenda item that seeks spectrum for telemetry, tracking, and command in the space operation service for non-geostationary orbit satellites with short-duration missions. “We would like a solution to be found to cut down on the misuse of the very limited amateur-satellite spectrum for commercial applications,” Sumner explained. “Discussions are focusing on spectrum near 137 MHz (down)/149 MHz (up), but reaching agreement is proving to be very difficult.”

Meetings continued through the weekend and will go on every day and well into the night as WRC-19 heads to its conclusion on November 22. 



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