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Conclusions of ITU World Radiocommunication Conference

The latest World Radiocommunication conference, organized by the international Telecommunication Union, was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 23 October to 17 December 1995.

This conference is the internationally recognized forum for world agreement on the use of radio freque...
The latest World Radiocommunication conference, organized by the international Telecommunication Union, was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 23 October to 17 December 1995.

This conference is the internationally recognized forum for world agreement on the use of radio frequencies and satellite orbits. It is held every two years with the purpose of debating and reaching agreement on changes in the use of the radio frequency spectrum, and to set the stage for new technological developments.

The spectrum is already heavily subscribed, so when assigning spectrum to a new service, only three options are available:

- Reallocation of existing spectrum from another service;
- Increasing the amount of usable spectrum by improving the efficiency of technology;
- Sharing spectrum on an agreed basis with existing services.

In this context, a number of developments in the communications field will necessarily lead to important modifications in the distribution of spectrum.

The new generation of Personal Communications Services (PS) plan to make use of constellations of "big LEO" (Low Earth Orbit) and "little LEO" satellites to offer mobile voice and data services seamlessly on a global basis. These new services have the potential to connect people anywhere on the planet, regardless of their location or the standard of the local telecommunications infrastructure. As a consequence they should have much to offer, but the requirement for new spectrum in which to operate these services will inevitably affect some existing services.

The conference also considered, with great interest, the Teledesic Corporation's (Microsoft, McCaw Cellular and AT&T) application for spectrum allocation in order to operate a Fixed Satellite Service non-Geostationary Orbit (FSS non-GSO) system of 840 satellites, promising seamless global broadband data communications at a low cost.

The most important decisions taken at this year's conference were:

- The allocation of additional spectrum to the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) for "little LEO" systems (operating below 1GHz). These systems will be used to provide "mobile data" type services;

- The change in the date for the entry into operation of those new "big LEO" systems using the 2 GHz band. This date has been brought forward to 1 January 2000;

- The simplification of the Radio Regulations. There was strong debate on two articles in particular, S8 and S9, relating to the international status of frequency assignments recorded in the Master International Frequency Register, and to the procedure for coordinating with or obtaining agreement from other administrations. This matter will be reviewed again in two year's time;

- With respect to the debate over the approval of the Teledesic FSS non-GSO systems, it was agreed to allocate the system 400MHz of spectrum in the 19GHz and 29GHz bands;

- It was also agreed to allocate 400MHz of spectrum to MSS feeder links, which provide uplinks to satellite services. To provide these links, spectrum had to be shared with Fixed Satellite Services. A compromise was arrived at putting non-GSO use on an equal footing with GSO use, thus allowing for sharing of the spectrum.

A draft agenda was prepared for the next WRC conference which will be held in Geneva in 1997. The most controversial agenda items are expected to centre around the planning of Broadcast Satellite Systems, and the scope on international broadcasting rights.
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