Thursday 19 November 2015

Mobile Telecoms Ask for Co-primary Allocation of UHF Spectrum for Broadcast and Mobile

Little progress on UHF Band as WRC-15 conference searches for more mobile spectrum
The agenda item that is widely acknowledged to be the most important at World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva, the identification of more spectrum to mobile broadband (IMT), is proving to be just as controversial as predicted. The GSM Association released a statement that highlighted the 470-694 MHz band’s potential for rural mobile broadband deployments and lashed out at the “misinformation” spread by incumbent broadcasters.

John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, reiterates the benefits of agreeing a co-primary allocation for mobile and broadcast in the sub-700MHz spectrum band. The sub-700MHz UHF band (470-694MHz) could prove a critical tool for governments seeking to expand access to high quality, wide area coverage for mobile broadband services for their citizens, whether they live in dense urban areas or remote rural communities. Critically, as many governments seek to identify the band at WRC-15 for potential future use for mobile, it offers the opportunity for spectrum harmonisation, which would drive economies of scale and reduce the cost of devices for consumers around the world.

Today, the UHF band is lightly used for terrestrial broadcasting in many countries. By implementing the latest technologies, these legacy services could be maintained in a smaller amount of spectrum, maximising the use of this valuable spectrum resource by allowing both mobile and broadcasting below 700MHz, says John Giusti.

According to the newsletter PolicyTracker around 20 countries, led by the US, either support identifying the band, or wish to assign the band for international mobile telecommunication (IMT) themselves. The question is, what combination of footnotes to the Radio Regulations can reconcile this position with the opposing positions held by the majority of regional groups and administrations.

WRC-15 is alive with speculation about the results of formal and informal discussions on this subject, but there seems to be little firm progress. A spokesperson for the US delegation told PolicyTracker that rather than being the subject of deals, the issue has not yet proceeded past the preliminary discussion stage. Negotiations have to be completed by next Thursday morning.

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