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WRC Wraps Up With Key Satellite Agreements

By | July 3, 2003

      The International Telecommunication Union‘s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) is wrapping up its month of spectrum allocation work on Friday with some key agreements affecting satellite services, members of the U.S. delegation said during a Thursday press briefing from Geneva. The WRC plenary, the body that has final authority to approve spectrum deals, approved an agreement reached at committee level that lowers the minimum dish size for fixed satellite services (FSS) in the 13.75-14 GHz band to 1.2 meters from the current limit of 4.5 meters, in exchange for power limits to cut interference with U.S. military radars in that band. The plenary also approved a deal allocating spectrum for aeronautical mobile satellite services (AMSS) on a “secondary” basis in the 14-14.5 GHz band. AMSS, being developed by Boeing [NYSE: BA] and other companies, will enable airline passengers to access broadband services in-flight.

      On the broadcast satellite service (BSS) front, the U.S. delegation was able to fend off attempts to raise the minimum dish size to 60 centimeters from 45 centimeters. This was important because direct broadcast satellite (DBS) users in the United States currently have dishes smaller than 60 centimeters. In addition, the U.S. delegation was able to protect spectrum in the L-5 band (1164-1215 MHz) for modernization of the GPS satellite navigation system. The WRC plenary ended up fudging the question of whether earth stations onboard vessels should be classified as FSS or mobile satellite services for regulatory purposes.

      In addition, the Arab and Japanese delegations had big satellite wins. The United Arab Emirates was able to secure additional spectrum for its Thuraya mobile satellite system. And Japan was able to get spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band for a new satellite system it wants to deploy, over the objections of China, which wants to use that spectrum for fixed wireless broadband services.

      For an in-depth discussion of the WRC developments and their implications for the satellite industry, check out the July 14 issue of SATELLITE NEWS. For info on subscribing to PBI Media’s satellite newsletters, see our Web site at

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