WRC Affirms C-Band Spectrum Reserved For Satellite Communications

By | November 16, 2007 | Feature, Telecom

[11-16-07 — Satellite News] The satellite industry scored a resounding victory at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), as the meeting closed with delegates rejecting requests from terrestrial players that they have more access to C-band spectrum.

“The global satellite industry emerged today from four weeks of successful negotiations to protect the users of its C-band spectrum from terrestrial interference,” John Lothian, vice president, space development at SES Global, said during a Nov. 16 telephone conference with reporters. “With its unequivocal ‘No Change’ campaign, the satellite industry at WRC-07 has ensured its uninterrupted, interference-free use of C-band for the future.”

WiMax and international mobile telecommunications (IMT) players had been seeking access to part of the C-band radio spectrum, which runs from 3.4 to 4.2 gigahertz (GHz) and traditionally has been the domain of satellite player.

IMT players had been pushing for a global allocation of C-band spectrum for their use, and while this was denied, some governments around the globe that supported this change signaled they would continue to support IMT use of the spectrum within their borders.

In Region 2, which includes the Americas and the Caribbean, 14 countries indicated they would allow a mobile service allocation in the 3.4 to 3.5 GHz range. In Region 3, which includes Asia, about eight or nine governments signed a footnote identifying potential IMT use of C-band. Only in Region 1, which includes Europe, Africa and the Middle East was there broader support for the footnote identifying IMT for national use.

Luxembourg, home of SES Global, was one of the few countries within the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations that was not an advocate of a global C-band allocation for terrestrial operators. “I think the people of Europe who were more in favor of IMT did not take into account that in Europe, there are a lot of satellite Earth stations deployed,” said Roland Thurmes of the Institut Luxembourgeois de Régulation.

While allowing some countries to allocate C-band spectrum for terrestrial use within their borders, the WRC imposed strict requirements on their operations so no interference with satellite operations would be created, Lothian said. If a country wishes to grant a terrestrial license for ITM it must notify the ITU, which then publishes the notice for everyone to review, he said.

“We insisted on very strong protection for existing and future satellite operations,” Lothian said. “Under the regulations, Earth stations are protected in the country as well as in the neighboring countries. … In effect, the footnotes are a face-saving device so everybody could get something out of this. In reality, it may be difficult for countries to get coverage without interference.”

Before the conference, mobile parties had the ability to deploy IMT in most of the C-band spectrum, but in pushing for a global allocation, the terrestrial players actually lost ground in C-band, said Kalpak Gude, vice president for regulatory affairs at Intelsat. “From a legal perspective they didn’t go backwards, but from one perspective, in looking for global support they probably overreached in the band and were told by the global community to look elsewhere. “On the positive side, they were given spectrum elsewhere that they can and will use, and I think the lower spectrum will be better for them.”

The WRC-07 decision also ensures that future IMT networks will not interfere with satellite’s use of C-band, Lothian said. “This outcome therefore shows overwhelming recognition of the need for continued interference-free operation of C-band satellite services that are essential for the provision of national over-the-air and cable television services, emergency and disaster recovery communications, Internet services, and mobile and wireline telephony trunking services.”   

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