ARRL General Bulletin ARLB072 (1997)

ARLB072 WRC-97 Wraps up in Geneva

ARRL Bulletin 72  ARLB072
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  November 21, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLB072 WRC-97 Wraps up in Geneva

The 1997 World Radiocommunication Conference concluded its talks in
the early morning hours of November 21 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Amateur Radio survived WRC-97 largely unscathed, but the stage has
been set for renewed spectrum battles at WRC-99.

The Little LEOs (non-voice, non-geostationary mobile satellite
interests)--which put a huge scare into the ham radio community in
1996 with their proposals to share ham radio VHF and UHF bands--were
unable to muster much support for new allocations at WRC-97.
However, they came away with up to 3 MHz of additional spectrum on a
regional basis, in the bands between 454 and 460 MHz.  The Little
LEOs also got a resolution calling for urgent studies in preparation
for WRC-99--what some at the conference called ''a hunting license''
for additional VHF/UHF spectrum.  A second issue that will recur at
WRC-99 is finding a place in the 420-470 MHz frequency range for the
Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EESS).  Synthetic aperture
radars (SARs) using frequencies in this range are said to be capable
of penetrating the rain forest for mapping purposes.

Two significant ham radio-related issues failed to make the cut for
consideration at WRC-99.  For budgetary reasons, the WRC-97
delegates had to limit the WRC-99 agenda only to the most urgent
issues.  Pushed back to the tentative agenda for WRC-2001 were the
possible realignment of the 40 meter band to resolve a conflict
between hams and broadcasters in part of the band (along with
possible expansion of broadcasting bands between 4 and 10 MHz), and
Article S25 of the international radio regulations.  Article S25
contains the international regulations specific to the Amateur and
Amateur-Satellite Services, including the Morse code requirement for
operation below 30 MHz.

WRC-97 delegates approved a resolution encouraging administrations
to facilitate the use of ham radio and other ''decentralized means of
communications'' for disaster mitigation and relief operations.  This
resolution eliminated the need for Resolution 640, which defined how
certain ham bands could be used for international disaster
communications by non-amateur stations, so Resolution 640 was

WRC-97 delegates did agree to upgrade the Earth Exploration
Satellite Service from secondary to primary at 1215 to 1300 MHz,
which should have only minimal impact on amateur use of 1240-1300
MHz.  The presence of EESS there also reduces the possibility that
other, less-compatible services might later be introduced into this

In other allocations decisions, amateur satellite segments were not
included among allocations for wind profiler radars.  Except for a
worldwide primary allocation at 1270 to 1295 MHz, the only specific
allocations for wind profiler radars are in Region 1, and those are
on a secondary basis.  Region 2 administrations were urged to
implement wind profilers in radiolocation bands at 440 to 450 MHz,
904 to 928 MHz (protecting the lower, weak-signal segment), 1270 to
1295 MHz (protecting amateur satellite and weak-signal), and 1300 to
1375 MHz.

The delegates agreed that the bands 420 to 435 MHz or 438 to 440 MHz
could be considered for use in situations where there was
incompatibility between wind profiler radars and other radio
applications at 440 to 450 MHz or 470 to 494 MHz (only in some
Region 1 countries).  In this case, too, the amateur-satellite
segment is protected.

Several Region 1 (primarily European) countries deleted footnoted
exceptions to the international table of allocations in the 1810 to
1830 kHz range, expanding the usability of 160 meters for ham radio.
North Korea was persuaded to drop its bid for footnoted exceptions
to the allocations table that could have affected some ham radio
bands in that part of the world.

Amateur Radio was represented at WRC-97 by a multinational team of
International Amateur Radio Union officials, including Secretary
Larry Price, W4RA, Vice President Michael Owen, VK3KI, and Region 1
Vice Chairman Wojciech Nietyksza, SP5FM.  They were assisted for a
time by Tafa Diop, 6W1KI, and Eduardo Estrada, HC2EE, who are
members of their respective regional executive committees.  Numerous
radio amateurs attended the conference in official capacities on
behalf of their national administrations, including ARRL Technical
Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, who served on the US

In all, 1801 delegates from 142 countries registered at the
conference.  Another 141 observers from regional and international
organizations also attended.