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WRC Wraps Up First Week With Ambitious Agenda

By | June 13, 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 broadband satellite services that allows passengers to access broadband services in-flight. The WRC is considering extending the allocation for this service, known as aeronautical mobile satellite service (Earth-to-space links), in the 14 GHz to 14.5 GHz bands. Boeing [NYSE: BA] is one of the companies planning to offer this service through its Connexion by Boeing unit.

      The conference also will examine the issue of earth stations onboard vessels. These earth stations operate with fixed satellite service (FSS) networks but with a mobile capability because of their use on ships. This creates some international regulatory issues that need to be worked out.

      Another issue concerns sharing of spectrum between FSS and military radar services. Some WRC delegates want to allow FSS 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 radar systems. Another agenda item is how satellite navigation systems – U.S. GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and Europe’s planned Galileo system – will share access to spectrum with other services, such as terrestrial radio navigation services.

      The WRC is also tackling the issue of the minimum size of the antenna used by broadcast satellite services. 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. This is an issue that could affect U.S. satellite TV providers DirecTV and EchoStar Communications [Nasdaq: DISH].

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