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Enjoy C-Band Win But Prepare For More Battles In The Future

By | January 1, 2008

      The satellite industry scored a victory at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), as delegates rejected requests from terrestrial interests to gain more access to C-band spectrum.

      WiMax and international mobile telecommunications (IMT) players had been pushing for a global allocation of C-band spectrum, but the satellite industry’s collective efforts under the “No Change” campaign ensured uninterrupted, interference-free use of the C band for the future.

      Some governments around the globe signaled they would continue to support IMT use of the spectrum within their borders, but strict requirements are imposed on these operations so no interference with satellite operations would be created.

      The attempt by terrestrial players to gain more access to C-band spectrum served as a wake-up call to the satellite industry. The credit for the victory goes to the many parties around the globe that joined forces to educate users — many of whom did not realize the potential consequences of such a change — on the seriousness of the issue.

      “In the last three years of intense work in study groups and regional meetings, what you saw was operators and participants from around the world getting together and coordinating their efforts to reach out in a collective manner,” says Kalpak Gude, vice president for regulatory affairs at Intelsat. “The success of this initiative says a lot about the industry and to the industry about what we can accomplish together.”

      There is no mention of C-band on the agenda for WRC-11, so the satellite industry has what looks to be an eight-year reprieve before potentially facing another battle over this spectrum. But C-band remains a valued resource, and terrestrial players may again make efforts to gain a global allocation, so the satellite industry must remain vigilant.

      An example of what happens when the industry is not united also took place at WRC-07, as the satellite industry lost ground on agenda item 1.9, which looked at a different spectrum band. In that instance, the terrestrial players gained ground because the satellite industry was not as concerned and not as organized to oppose the terrestrial lobby.

      “I’ve been to five WRCs, and this was first time I’ve seen the satellite community come together,” says Marc Dupuis, deputy head of the Canadian delegation and chairman of Committee 4 at WRC-07 as well as senior director, Spectrum Planning and Engineering, Industry Canada. “It’s amazing what can be accomplished in a group, and this was why IMT had been successful in past WRCs. That community competed but came together when it was important to the community. This can be replicated, but I wonder if [the satellite industry] will get as strong a response in other areas that are not as threatening.”

      Competition within the satellite industry is as strong and vigorous as within any other industry, and now satellite players have shown they can be just as effective with their combined efforts. Let’s hope the industry can build on these efforts and not let this be a one-time accomplishment.

      “Frankly I expect on issues where our interest are aligned for us to work together,” says Gude. “This was very successful effort on our part and one all are eager to replicate in the future.”

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