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ITU Tackles Challenges

By | June 18, 2003

      The International Telecommunication Union’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) wrapped up its first week in Geneva with an ambitious agenda of spectrum-related initiatives. Among the list of 48 agenda items is an effort to earmark spectrum for the increasingly popular aeronautical mobile satellite services (AMSS) that will enable airline passengers to access broadband services in-flight.

      In an interview with Interspace, U.S. ambassador to the WRC, Janice Obuchowski, explained the issue this way: “The band in which the [AMSS] is proposed [14-14.5GHz] already has an incumbent with primary status. MSS is secondary in this band, but aeronautical has always been excepted from this. We are trying to get rid of the exception language so that aeronautical MSS could operate in this band. At this point, Boeing [NYSE: BA] is operating with experimental licenses but in terms of a broadbased deployment and the kind of permanency you would want for such a major investment, there is a need to remove the limitation on the MSS aeronautical services. The U.S. and just about everyone else is pushing for the removal of this limit.”

      Another issue concerns sharing of spectrum between fixed satellite services (FSS) and military radars. Some WRC delegates want to allow the FSS industry to deploy dishes smaller than the current 4.5-meter limit in the 13.75 GHz to 14 GHz band, but there is concern that this will cause interference with existing radar systems.

      Another WRC agenda item is how radionavigation satellite services (RNSS) – i.e., U.S. GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and Europe’s planned Galileo system – will share access to spectrum with other services, such as aeronautical radio navigation service. Obuchowski said the WRC delegates are trying to see how an upgrade of GPS by the United States and the deployment of Galileo from the Europeans can be done while protecting existing services in the shared band.

      The WRC is also tackling the issue of the minimum size of the antenna used by broadcast satellite services (BSS). Europe and Asia want the minimum size of BSS antennas set at 60 centimeters, whereas the U.S. and the rest of the Americas want to keep the minimum antenna size at 45 centimeters. –Fred Donovan

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