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CHIPS Articles: International Radio Regulation Treaty Change at World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15)

International Radio Regulation Treaty Change at World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15)
By Fumie Nakahara Wingo - July-September 2015
The United Nation (UN) International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will convene the World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) in Geneva from Nov. 2 to 27,, 2015, to revise the International Radio Regulation Treaty which governs global use of the radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbit resources.

The conferences are held every three to four years, with approximately 200 countries participating.

The Department of the Navy (DON), with other federal agencies, is part of the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) – Radio Conference Subcommittee (RCS), chaired by the, National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Department of Commerce, which prepares federal positions for WRCs.

There is a separate pipeline that carries non-government positions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The positions from NTIA and FCC are reconciled at the State Department level as the U.S. positions, as illustrated in Figure 1.

There are many DON equities to consider since the DON operates in sea, air, land and space. Participation in the U.S. WRC preparatory process is therefore very important to influence the Radio Regulations, set technical and regulatory conditions to promote interference-free Navy and Marine Corps operations and acquisition, and to prevent or minimize the following negative impact:

-- DON spectrum systems must share the frequency band with new services which can limitoperations;
-- DON spectrum systems must vacate the frequency band to comparable spectrum which is expensive and can be a complicated process; and
-- DON spectrum system might have to shut down because there is no comparable spectrum available, which is the worst case scenario.

There are approximately 20 WRC-15 agenda items (AI), and the DON has been proactively following more than half of them. One of the most discussed WRC-15 agenda items is the globally harmonized identification and possible allocation of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), known as the international standard for mobile broadband services (AI 1.1). The frequency bands between 400 and 6,000 MHz were reviewed for compatibility study with existing incumbent services. The DON has numerous equities such as radars, satellite communication, missile defense, and disaster relief, to name a few, which operate in these frequency bands.

Other AIs that are important to the DON include: use of fixed satellite service for control and non-payload communication of unmanned air systems in non-segregated airspaces (AI 1.5); new primary fixed satellite service (FSS) allocation of 250 MHz within 10 - 17 GHz in Europe region (Region 1), which was newly added by the ITU Radio Assembly in response to the missing of the Malaysian Flight 370; 300 MHz and 250 MHz within 13-17 GHz in America region (Region 2) and Asia Pacific region (Region 3), respectively, (AIs 1.6.1 and 1.6.2); examining of the coordinated universal time (UTC) (AI 1.14); global flight tracking (GFT) that deal with the same frequency as the Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) operations used by the Defense Department ; and maritime related AIs (AI 1.9.2, 1.15 and 1.16). Note that spectrum sharing is divided into three regions worldwide as illustrated in Figure 2.

The agenda items for the conference are established by the preceding conference, and depending on the complexity of the issue, it would take five to ten years, or even more, before seeing changes in domestic radio regulation. That means that the WRC-15 agenda items were established at the previous WRC in 2012 (WRC-12), and WRC-15 establishes the agenda items for WRC in 2019 (WRC-19).

The DON must carefully examine each agenda item because changing the International Radio Regulation Treaty language is the principal method for influencing a foreign government’s internal domestic Radio Regulations to avoid the following scenarios:

-- Difficulty in obtaining permission to radiate because of constraints posed by the local administration.
-- Acquisition constrained by spectrum regulations in a certain geographic area.
-- Impact on Foreign Military Sales (FMS) for spectrum dependent systems.
-- Host Nation, or United States, radio regulations limiting advanced radio technology.

The United States position for each agenda item is being finalized, and the U.S. delegation, led by Ambassador Decker Anstrom, is working at full-speed to achieve the U.S. objectives at WRC-15. The U.S. position for this agenda item can be found at the NTIA website: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/page/us-proposals.

Fumie Nakahara Wingo is the DON International Spectrum Policy Lead.

Figure 1 illustrates the reconciliation of positions from NTIA and FCC which are reconciled at the State Department level as the official U.S. positions.
Figure 1 illustrates the reconciliation of positions from NTIA and FCC which are reconciled at the State Department level as the official U.S. positions.

Note that spectrum sharing is divided into three regions worldwide as illustrated in Figure 2.
Note that spectrum sharing is divided into three regions worldwide as illustrated in Figure 2.
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