U.S. Agencies Release WRC Implementation Plan

By | August 18, 2003 | Feature

The two U.S. agencies responsible for spectrum management — the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) – have developed a schedule for implementation of the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03) agreement reached last month

The plan is designed to ensure that federal government, state and local governments, and commercial spectrum users derive maximum benefits from the WRC results, the agencies said.

During its month of work in late June and early July, the International Telecommunication Union’s WRC reached a range of decisions affecting spectrum allocations for satellite and terrestrial wireless services (see SN, July 14). For example, WRC approved a reduction in the minimum dish size for fixed satellite services (FSS) in the 13.75-14 GHz band to 1.2 meters (47 inches) from the current limit of 4.5 meters (177 inches). It also approved a spectrum allocation for aeronautical mobile satellite services (AMSS) on a “secondary” basis in the 14-14.5 GHz band. AMSS, under development by Boeing [NYSE: BA] and other companies, will enable airline passengers to access broadband services in- flight.

The WRC approved an allocation of 455 megahertz of spectrum in the 5 gigahertz spectrum band for wireless local area networks (WLANs) that use the Wi-Fi standard. The allocation will harmonize the spectrum available for WLANs, allowing manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and lowering deployment costs for networks.

Implementation Schedule

Under the WRC-03 Implementation Plan issued this month, the FCC, in coordination with NTIA, plans to consider the results of the conference in several proceedings:

Fourth Quarter 2003

  • Revisions of Parts 2 and 15 of the FCC’s rules to permit unlicensed national information infrastructure (U?NII) devices in the 5 GHz band – report and order;
  • Procedures to govern the use of satellite earth stations on board vessels – notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • Amendment of Parts 2, 25, and 87 of the FCC’s rules concerning frequency bands between 28 MHz and 36 GHz and to update the rules in this frequency range – report and order;
  • Extension of the allocation to the mobile satellite service (Earth?to?space) on a secondary basis in the band 14-14.5 GHz to permit operation of AMSS – report and order.

First Quarter 2004

  • Allocations and regulatory issues related to the space science services and review all Earth exploration-satellite service and space research service allocations between 35 and 38 GHz – notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • Results concerning radionavigation satellite services (additional issues not covered by the 28 MHz-36 GHz report and order) – notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • Amendment of Part 101 relating to fixed services at 37.5?43.5 GHz – second report and order and third notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • Radiolocation allocation upgrades in the 2.9-3.1 GHz band – notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • Omnibus proceeding to address several allocation matters resulting from WRC – notice of proposed rulemaking.

Second Quarter 2004

  • Allocation and designation of spectrum for high-density fixed-satellite and other services at 37.5-50.2 GHz – further notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • Amendment of Parts 13 and 80 of the FCC’s rules concerning maritime distress and safety communications.

Fourth Quarter 2004

  • Regulatory and technical provisions for satellite networks using highly elliptical orbits – notice of proposed rulemaking

There also are a number of other WRC agenda items that may require additional proceedings, the agencies said. NTIA and FCC staff will develop a schedule for these items by year’s end.

–Fred Donovan

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