[RAC-Bulletin] World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19): An Update

Countdown to WRC-19: An Update to the article by Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN, in the September-October 2019 TCA

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from October 28 to November 22, 2019. Our delegate, Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN, the RAC Special Advisor at World Radiocommunication Conferences, regularly keeps us all up to date – through articles in The Canadian Amateur magazine and on the RAC website – on the issues and processes that ultimately determine Amateur Radio frequencies around the world. The September-October 2019 issue of The Canadian Amateur features Bryan’s article “Countdown to WRC-19: A Final Update…” as it is the last opportunity to include information in TCA before the Conference begins in October. Since the article was sent to the printer in mid-August 2019 international events have transpired and we are pleased to provide you with an updated article below.

With my article, “The Importance of Showing Up”, in the May-June 2019 issue of The Canadian Amateurmagazine, I hoped to draw attention to the international regulatory processes which are constantly at work adapting the frequencies and rules which underlay all radio services including the Amateur Radio Service. However, the recent action of the administration in France in seeking to extend the frequencies used for aeronautical mobile radio to include sharing our two-metre band, has done more than I could ever have hoped to draw attention to the need for Radio Amateurs everywhere to be vigilant and to be smart in interacting with the national, regional and international organizations tasked with regulating the radio spectrum.

So, let me start then with a WRC-19 agenda item which wasn’t even mentioned in the May-June article: specifically, WRC-19 Agenda Item 10. This is a standing item finalized at the conclusion of every World Radio Conference and which sets out the agenda for the subsequent WRC, in this case the planned 2023 Conference (WRC-23).

In recent meetings (late August) of the Conseil Europëen des Postes et Télécommunications (CEPT), a 48-member grouping of European states, France proposed asking the Conference to add an agenda item for WRC-23 to consider adding primary allocations for the aeronautical mobile service in several frequency ranges in the VHF, UHF and microwave bands. One of these ranges was 144 to 146 MHz which is currently allocated as a worldwide primary allocation to the Amateur Radio Service and the Amateur Satellite Service.

Following CEPT meetings in Prague (May) and in Ankara (August) and energetic interventions from the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which has observer status at CEPT, France withdrew the 144 MHz segment from their proposal in the closing phases of the Ankara meeting. Consequently, the Amateur community should have no further concerns with this proposal.

What Canadian Amateurs should retain from this is that this was accomplished precisely and arguably only because the Amateur community addressed this issue through its long-established and respected membership in international organizations where these issues are debated and resolved.

Here is a quick update of the issues we know will be considered at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference which begins on October 28.

Six Metres for Region 1:

To be on the same footing as the rest of the world, Amateurs in Region 1 (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) would hope for a 4 MHz primary allocation in 50 to 54 MHz. At the Conference the delegates will be given a choice of allocating 4 MHz, 2 MHz or 200 kHz – all primary, all secondary or partly one and partly the other. Also possible is No Change (NoC) leaving Region 1 Amateurs with their current hodge-podge of domestic allocations which range from 4 MHz as in the other Regions to no allocation at all.

This has been a very difficult file for the Amateurs who have worked it over the past four years and there is no assurance of the outcome.

5G International Mobile Telephony: 

Our principal concern has been to avoid having to share 47 – 47.2 GHz, one of our very few microwave primary allocations. In the run-up to the Conference it seems increasingly probable that this band will not be touched in the 2019 Conference, however there is no guarantee that this segment will not be under review in the 2023 Conference. Indeed, there is at least one preliminary proposal that 47 – 47.2 GHz be studied in the 2023 study cycle for sharing with the Fixed Satellite Service.

Wireless Access Nodes (RLANs) in 5 GHz:

Most of the heat on this agenda item has been with frequency segments in the lower part of the 5 GHz study range which do not overlap our Amateur allocation. The two segments under study which do overlap our Canadian secondary allocation – 5650 to 5925 MHz – are likely to not change in the Conference. Proposals to effect a limited expansion in 5725 to 5850 MHz concern mainly ITU Region 1 and are limited in impact and may not come to pass. It’s worth remembering that we are a secondary user in this band. In addition, we already share the 5725 to 5875 MHz portion with an Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band.

Wireless Power Transfer for Electric Vehicles (WPT(EV)):

Since these charging systems are not, strictly speaking, radio services, this agenda item is not to make an allocation for electric-vehicle charging. Rather, the issue is to recommend frequency ranges wherein vehicle charging can be effected so as to minimize interference to radiocommunication services.

The Conference will be told that the most appropriate ranges are 19 – 25 kHz for high-power applications and 79 – 90 kHz for medium power. Canada, however, has been instrumental in highlighting that nonetheless there is no assurance that wireless power charging for electric vehicles (WPT(EV)) will not cause harmful interference to radio communications (including Amateur Radio).

In the period leading up to the Conference there will be meetings among individual member states in the various regional telecommunication groupings. I’ve already mentioned European states in CEPT. In Canada’s case, the meeting with its partners in the Comisión Interamericana de Telecomunicaciones (CITEL), the telecommunications committee of the Organization of American States (OAS), took place in Ottawa in August. In those meetings RAC authored and Canada submitted a modification to the Inter-American Position on Wireless Power Transfer which strengthened the case for protecting radio services from spurious emissions from WPT(EV).

In addition, during the CITEL meeting IARU Region 2, Brazil, the US and Canada successfully convinced Mexico to withdraw 47 – 47.2 GHz from their proposal to study new frequency ranges for Fixed Satellite Service uplinks. For more information about this meeting please see the link provided below.

WRC-19 will take place from October 28 to November 22 at the International Confer-ence Centre in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. Canadian Amateurs who wish to stay abreast of how all of these issues play out should subscribe to RAC bulletins, watch for news postings on the RAC webpage, and monitor RAC’s Twitter and Facebook accounts before and during the Conference using the hashtag #RACatWRC19.

Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN
RAC Special Advisor –
World Radiocommuncation Conference