Allocating spectrum for a changing world: #WRC15 in review

FOR RANCY BLOGThe 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (#WRC-15) concluded last week, paving the way for the future of radiocommunications. The decisions made at WRC-15 enable the smooth development of all radiocommunications services including mobile broadband, satellite delivery, television broadcasting, scientific services and emergency services. The conference will permit the deployment of new technologies, helping to deliver cheaper and wider services such as broadband Internet, while protecting existing and future investments for services and technology that have already been implemented and provide services universally.

WRC-15 was a very successful conference, covering a wide range of important issues that everyone will benefit from. It was the culmination of four years of preparation, which included many meetings and extensive studies. Over 3300 delegates from more than 160 countries met in Geneva throughout the month of November to find solutions to a number of complex and contentious issues, and to agree on a single set of new regulations for these topics. The Final Acts, which were signed by all of the participating countries on the final day of the conference, will come into effect on 1 January 2017.

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Some of the key outcomes of the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference include:

  • Several hundred megahertz of new spectrum were allocated for mobile broadband, which will ensure that the additional spectrum necessary for 4G and 5G development is available when and where it is required. In most cases, this spectrum is allocated globally, which will bring worldwide benefits. Global harmonization will bring reduced prices for the production of mobile broadband equipment, and therefore help to deliver more affordable broadband for all.
  • Spectrum was also allocated for global flight tracking, which will enable to follow the status of planes around the world – a decision made in light of the MH370 disaster.
  • WRC-15 also enabled the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to proceed with the development of standards on unmanned aircraft through the allocation of new spectrum. The situation will be reviewed at the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference to ensure that a stable framework for the development of unmanned aircrafts is established.
  • A number of new allocations for satellite services were agreed, including satellite communications and Earth exploration satellites which will enable a more accurate exploration of the Earth, both its resources and the evolution of the climate –a very important issue as we enter COP21 final negotiations. Satellite regulations are of vital importance to ensure that all countries have equitable access, and resources are used properly and efficiently.
  • The preliminary agenda for the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference, and the agenda for the 2019 Conference were also decided at WRC-15. WRC-19 will address a number of issues, in particular broadband and mobile allocations in higher frequency bands – above 24 GHz. These have a shorter range than the frequency bands now in use, but come in very large bandwidths. Therefore, much more spectrum will be available for mobile broadband following the expected WRC-19 decisions. One of the main challenges for the future of spectrum management is the convergence between fixed to mobile applications – this will also be addressed at WRC-19.

This blog is edited from Mr François Rancy’s interview on the outcomes of WRC-15. Listen to the conversation in full here. For a full round-up of information from the recent #WRC15 conference please visit ITU’s WRC-15 Newsroom.

François Rancy

rancyMr. Rancy was elected by the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2010 (PP-10) to the post of Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) of the International Telecommunication Union, and was confirmed in a second term during the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014 (PP-14). As Director, Mr. Rancy is responsible for the management of the Radiocommunication Bureau which organises and co-ordinates the work of the Radiocommunication Sector whose aim is to ensure the rational, equitable, efficient and economical use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary satellite orbit. Previous to taking up his duties at the ITU in January, 2011, he was Director General of the French Agence nationale des fréquences. Since 1995, Mr. Rancy has served as the head or deputy head for national delegations at many ITU conferences and meetings. Mr. Rancy graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in 1977 and from Ecole nationale supérieure des télécommunications in 1979.

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