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Agenda for WRC-11 Poses Opportunities and Challenges for Hams


The next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-11) is scheduled for fall 2011. These periodic conferences of the Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) consider allocations to the various radio services -- including the Amateur Radio Service -- and evaluate what new technologies and applications should be addressed by future conferences.

The agenda for WRC-11, 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. 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 WRC-11 presents an opportunity for a new secondary allocation in the medium waves. While the outcome in 2011 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."

Price said that some WRCs have posed great challenges for Amateur Radio, with blocks of spectrum potentially at risk. "This was the case at WRC-03 and WRC-07, which posed a very real potential reallocation of portions of the 40 meter band in Region 2 to HF broadcasting," he said. "The agenda for WRC-11 does not pose any threats to Amateur Radio as clear or as overt as those faced in prior years." Price and ARRL Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA, 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, at least domestically and at least at this time, are acknowledging that sharing with Amateur Radio would be problematic."

WRC-11 is tentatively scheduled for October 24-November 18, 2011, in Geneva.



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