Satellite industry focusses on WRC-19
Nov 06, 2019 by Toby Youell


Spectrum managers from all countries and industries are currently gathered at the Egyptian beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to amend the Radio Regulations, the treaty governing the international use of spectrum. The satellite industry is perhaps more dependent on global harmonisation than any other, and its spectrum policy advocates are very much engaged in WRC-19 and its long preparations.

One WRC-19 agenda item would give HAPs co-primary status in 28 GHz. This is opposed by SES who think it could damage their fixed satellites business.

Regarding the 5G candidate bands at WRC-19, satellite players’ concerns are focussed on two frequency ranges:

  • 26 GHz band (24.25-27.5 GHz) – While most satellite players would support an IMT identification in this band, the battlefield is the level of protection required for satellite-based earth observation services. Satellite is demanding a high level of protection, which the mobile industry argues would make much of the band unusable.
  • 40 GHz (37-43.5 GHz) – Parts of this range have been earmarked for the expansion of satellite services so operators are reluctant to give 5G IMT access across the whole 6 GHz. They favour a 3 GHz allocation, with the ranges varying between regions

Another WRC-19 agenda item important for satellite is AI 1.8, which seeks the modernisation of the Global Maritime Distress & Safety System (GMDSS). This would bring in competition, particularly though the Iridium non-GEO platform in 1.6 GHz. Here the debate is about protection for the new services, which Inmarsat fears could jeopardise its existing business.

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