The second week of the World Radiocommunication Conference was marked by intense discussions of the most contentious agenda items but very little closure. It is clear that long days and nights are ahead in the last two weeks.
Meet the team: There are 14 representatives of the IARU and its member-societies who are attending all or part of the WRC. IARU is admitted in a non-advisory capacity, which means that those of us representing IARU may attend meetings but may not speak in meetings unless asked by the chairman to provide information. That does happen occasionally, but most of our talking with delegates occurs in the hallways during breaks – in other words, lobbying. Three of us carry IARU credentials. President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, was here for the second week. Secretary Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, and Dave Court, EI3IO, Chairman of the Region 1 Spectrum & Regulatory Liaison Committee, will stay until the final week.
The other 11 members of the IARU team are on their national delegations: IARU Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, for Norway; Ulli Mueller, DK4VW, and Bernd Mischlewski, DF2ZC, for Germany; Murray Niman, G6JYB, for the UK; Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP, for Japan; Hans Blondeel Timmerman, PB2T, for the Netherlands; Flavio Archangelo, PY2ZX, for Brazil; Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN, for Canada; Dale Hughes, VK1DSH, and Peter Pokorny, VK2EMR, for Australia; and Jon Siverling, WB3ERA, for the US. Bernd, Ken, and Peter made their contributions during the first half of the conference and have returned home.
Through their dues the members of IARU member-societies in all three regions, and especially the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club, Radio Society of Great Britain, Japan Amateur Radio League, Radio Amateurs of Canada, Wireless Institute of Australia, and ARRL have helped to field the IARU team. Without your support there could be no effective representation of the amateur and amateur-satellite services at WRC-19 and other international meetings and conferences.
Here is a look at where the remaining major issues potentially affecting the amateur services stand at the midway point.
50 MHz in Region 1: While a couple of details remain to be worked out as to how other existing services in Region 1 countries are to be protected from interference, there is agreement that the amateur service should gain an entry in the international Table of Frequency Allocations for Region 1. The present allocations in Regions 2 and 3 will be unchanged. WRC decisions are made by consensus and Region 1 administrations came to Sharm El-Sheikh with disparate views ranging from a 4‑MHz primary allocation to no allocation at all, so a delicate compromise had to be fashioned to reach a positive outcome. While it is too early to celebrate, we are cautiously optimistic that the compromise will hold. Dale, VK1DSH chaired ten meetings of the Sub-Working Group responsible for this agenda item. The compromise will be reviewed at the Working Group and Committee levels over the next few days but will not become final until the second reading of the document in the Plenary, which may not occur until the fourth week.
Future agenda items:
The IARU is not seeking any agenda items for future WRCs at this conference. With the spectrum from 8.3 kHz to 275 GHz fully allocated and some bands above 275 GHz already identified for particular uses, any proposal for new allocations involves sharing with one or more incumbent services. The pressures for spectrum access to accommodate new uses for commercial purposes are intense; for an established service such as ours, any WRC that does not reduce our own useful spectrum access is a success.
The idea of including the amateur two meter band in a study of non-safety aeronautical mobile service applications has not resurfaced. However, the IARU is concerned with a proposed item for WRC-23 entitled: “Review of the amateur service and the amateur-satellite service allocations to ensure the protection of the radionavigation-satellite service (space-to-Earth) in the frequency band 1240 – 1300 MHz.”
Our regulatory status is already clear. The amateur service is secondary in this band and the amateur-satellite service is permitted to operate in the Earth-to-space direction on a non-interference basis in the band 1260 – 1270 MHz. In the international Radio Regulations this is all the protection a primary service such as radionavigation-satellite requires; implementation is up to individual administrations.
The one well-documented case of interference to a Galileo receiver that prompted this proposed agenda item occurred more than five years ago and was quickly resolved by the administration concerned. There have been no known interference cases to user terminals.
An amateur service allocation of 1215 – 1300 MHz was made on a primary, exclusive basis in 1947, later downgraded to secondary to accommodate radiolocation (radar) and narrowed to 1240 – 1300 MHz. The radionavigation-satellite service was added in 2000. As a secondary service amateur radio has operated successfully in the band for many years. Given the relatively modest density and numbers of amateur transmissions in the band, we view the Galileo-oriented proposal for an agenda item as disproportionate.
The IARU recognizes the concern and does not want the amateur service to affect the operation of the Galileo system in any way. It has already updated its operational recommendations for amateur stations in Region 1. If necessary, further recommendations may be developed and rolled out globally.
In CEPT, two preliminary measurement studies of Galileo receiver performance/vulnerability (from 2015 and 2019) are currently being evaluated. Discussions can be more timely and focused within CEPT. The IARU believes that this process already offers the potential for a satisfactory solution and thus the issue does not warrant WRC action and the commitment of ITU resources.
Satellites: While it does not directly affect us – work at WRC-15 saw to that – we are following an agenda item that seeks spectrum for telemetry, tracking and command in the space operation service for non-GSO satellites with short duration missions (Cubesats, among others). We would like a solution to be found to cut down on the misuse of the very limited amateur-satellite spectrum for commercial applications. Discussions are focusing on spectrum near 137 MHz (down)/149MHz (up) but reaching agreement is proving to be very difficult.
Resolutions: Every WRC reviews the resolutions and recommendations adopted by previous conferences. This time two resolutions involving the amateur services were proposed for suppression.
Resolution 641 prohibiting broadcasting in the 7000 – 7100 kHz was last revised in 1987 and became out-of-date in 2003 when the global amateur band was extended upward to 7200 kHz. Administrations were not persuaded that the resolution was still required and none proposed a modification to cover the additional 100 kHz. Suppressing it was better than leaving an obsolete resolution on the books, so we did not try to retain it.
After examining Resolution 642 that sets out the procedure for submitting information on typical amateur-satellite earth stations for publication by the ITU, several administrations decided that would suppression would be premature. The resolution, which has been on the books since 1979, has been retained with no change. An update may be considered in the future.
Meetings continued through the weekend and will go on every day and well into the night as WRC-19 heads to its conclusion on 22 November.