OUTCOME OF WRC-15
Key SA objectives met at WRC–15
After 4 weeks of negotiation and debate, at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC–15) held in Geneva, Switzerland, the 41 South African delegation played a significant role in securing major outcomes for spectrum management to be integrated into national regulatory arrangements over the next 12 months. This would lead to the country updating National Radio Frequency Plan (NRFP), Terrestrial Broadcasting Frequency Plan, Frequency Assignment Plans and Spectrum Regulations.
The SA delegation was led by the Minster of Telecommunication and Postal Services Dr. Siyabonga Cwele. The Minister, who attended the first week and last week of the conference, encouraged the delegation to work closely together and ensure commitment to the positions which will advance the national objectives. The South African positions were endorsed by Cabinet in October 2015 prior to WRC-15.
The WRC-15 outcomes are a commitment of extensive national preparation by key government departments and industry experts in South Africa leading up to WRC–15 by and intensive participation as the South African delegation at the Conference.
Key outcomes includes:
• An allocation of 91 MHz in the frequency range 1427–1518 MHz for globally harmonised International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT).
• Additional IMT identification of the 694/698-790 MHz (700 MHZ) frequency band in ITU Region-1 (Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia).
• WRC-15 agreeing on a compromise that the 470–694 MHz band be protected for broadcasters in ITU Region 1 (Africa, Middle East and Europe), while allowing several countries from other regions to use at least part of the 470–698 MHz band for IMT.
• A position of “No Change” (i.e. no allocation to IMT) was adopted in the band 3600-4200 MHz. In addition, the Conference resolved not to consider a proposal for IMT systems in the C-band uplink frequencies (5925-6425 MHz).
• A single globally-harmonised frequency range—694–894 MHz—for Public Protection and Disaster Relief (public safety communications).
• Agreement on an allocation in the frequency range 1087.7–1092.3 MHz to support global flight tracking by satellite receivers of civilian aircraft using existing transmissions from aircraft. (The agreement is part of the ITU’s response to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in March 2014).
• A global allocation for short-range high-resolution automotive radar in the 79 GHz frequency band.
• An extension of the allocation to the earth exploration satellite service in the 9 GHz band that will permit higher resolution satellite images.
• A new Resolution that opens the way for the development by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of worldwide standards for unmanned aircraft systems’ satellite communications in certain frequency bands, and international regulatory conditions that may be applied to these systems.
• Global spectrum allocation for wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC) to facilitate the transition to wireless communication within aircraft.
• Agreement to a new agenda item for WRC–19 to explore options for additional IMT identifications above 24 GHz in support of new 5G technologies.
The Department intends to de-brief other key Government Departments with interest in the use of spectrum and industry on the WRC-15 outcome and the Post WRC-15 SADC meeting held on 08 to 10 March 2016, in Maputo, Mozambique.
Following the formal treaty level approval processes, the many WRC–15 outcomes directly impacting South Africa will be integrated by ICASA into national regulatory arrangements in preparation for the bringing into force of the latest version of the ITU Radio Regulations on 01 January 2017.
The Department will launch the National Preparatory Working Group (NPWG) to commence with the preparatory process for WRC-19.
The 2019 WRC agenda will be the focus of attention in the coming months as the Department, the Regulator and industry consider the national implications and associated studies required to get preparatory work underway.