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World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC)

The World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) are held every three to four years and it is tasked to review and revise, if necessary the radio regulations. Work towards the WRC is done on the basis of Agenda Items (AI). Each WRC decides on the Agenda Items (AI) for the upcoming WRC.

Find out more about WRC here

The last World Radiocommunications Conference in 2019 specified the agenda items for WRC 2023. The list of Agenda Items can be found here

WRC-23 represents a great opportunity for IMT harmonization

The WRC is indeed a global effort to achieve global harmonization of spectrum for mobile/IMT, including technical conditions. Harmonization is critical for the availability of an ecosystem and economies of scale.

At the previous WRC (i.e. WRC-19), a number of AIs were defined in relation to mobile/IMT; AI 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5:

Mid-band spectrum

AI 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 include two spectrum bands for which today there is an already existing large ecosystem, 3GPP band n79 4400-5000 MHz and 3GPP band n77/n78 covering 3300-4200 MHz/ 3300-3800 MHz. In fact, these are the 5G bands most commonly supported by devices. The WRC-23 represents an opportunity to further harmonize these spectrum bands and offers an opportunity for countries to join the ecosystem and provide economies of scale.

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While ecosystem is large for the C-band, this spectrum has already been licensed or is in the process of being licensed in CEPT. In fact, the European Electronic Communications Code (the ‘Code’, or EECC) Article 54 calls Member States to “reorganise and allow the use of sufficiently large blocks of the 3.4–3.8 GHz band” in order to facilitate the 5G roll-out [ref See]. The ASMG approved the release of Vital Spectrum in 3.3 to 3.8 GHz Range for Use by Mobile Broadband in 2018 and since then licensing has been ongoing. [ref: GSMA | Arab Nations Make the Right Moves for 5G Leadership, Says GSMA - Newsroom]

In line with market developments, AI 1.3 looks at the upgrade of mobile allocation (from secondary to primary). This will ensure that the mobile service is at the same level as other primary services in the band in terms of protection from interference. The mobile upgrade should also ensure that legacy deployments can continue, without implying further restrictions.

New mid-band spectrum is also considered under AI 1.2, i.e. 6425-7125 MHz. Coleago Consulting has estimated that an average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum is needed for the 2025-2030 timeframe. This spectrum is key to secure spectrum for the near-term evolution of 5G. Read more about the additional mid-band spectrum needs here: GSMA | 5G Mid-Band Spectrum Needs - Vision 2030 - Spectrum.

Low band spectrum

AI 1.5 considers possible regulatory actions in the 470-694 MHz band in Region 1 and calls, in particular, for spectrum needs considerations between broadcasting and mobile, except aeronautical mobile, services as well as any sharing, as appropriate.

To reach deep rural areas and to bring mobile to all transport paths, additional spectrum below 1 GHz is required to make deployments a feasible investment.

This spectrum is of particular importance currently and in preparation for the future in which “staying online” becomes critical to bring equal opportunities to all citizens no matter if being in a city or country-side. Mobile broadband is the only reasonable way to connect the ”underserved areas”.

A report by Plum consulting recommends that spectrum should be allocated on a co-primary basis based on the facts that Mobile broadband growth requires more low-band spectrum while DTT usage in UHF spectrum is declining. The recommendation intends to give flexibility to administrations to either use the spectrum for mobile or for broadcasting, depending on their needs. Read more The future use of UHF spectrum in ITU Region 1 - GSA (gsacom.com)

HIBS

High Altitude IMT base stations can help mobile operators to expand their networks to places not reachable by terrestrial networks. On the other hand, current and future terrestrial operations need to be protected. While the radio regulations stipulates that the bands 1885-1980 MHz, 2010-2025 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz may be used for high altitude platform stations as base stations to provide International Mobile Telecommunications, AI 1.4 will consider the use of HIBS in certain bands already identified today for IMT below 2.7 GHz, in particular 694-960 MHz, 1 710-1 885 MHz and 2 500-2 690 MHz.

Definition of the different AIs:  

  • AI 1.1 on “considering, based on the results of the ITU‑R studies, possible measures to address, in the frequency band 4 800-4 990 MHz, protection of stations of the aeronautical and maritime mobile services located in international airspace and waters from other stations located within national territories, and to review the pfd criteria in No. 5.441B”
  • AI 1.2 on “studies on frequency-related matters for the terrestrial component of International Mobile Telecommunications identification in the frequency bands 3 300-3 400 MHz, 3 600-3 800 MHz, 6 425-7 025 MHz, 7 025-7 125 MHz and 10.0-10.5 GHz.”
  • AI 1.3 on “studies to consider possible allocation of the frequency band 3 600-3 800 MHz to the mobile, except aeronautical mobile, service on a primary basis within Region 1.”
  • AI 1.4 on “considering the use of high-altitude platform stations as IMT base stations (HIBS) in the mobile service in certain frequency bands below 2.7 GHz already identified for IMT, on a global or regional level”
  • AI 1.5 on “reviewing the spectrum use and spectrum needs of existing services in the frequency band 470-960 MHz in Region 1 and consider possible regulatory actions in the frequency band 470‑694 MHz in Region 1”