Supporting European interests at WRC-15

At the eighth meeting of the ECC’s Conference Preparatory Group (CPG-15) in September, CEPT, the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, finalised its preparations for the WRC-15. The event takes place in Geneva, from 2 to 27 November.

The group prepared and approved 53 European Common Proposals for the work of the Conference, an impressive achievement given the broad range of topics under consideration. The work centred around Europe’s common spectrum interests, and has been accomplished through the hard work and dedication of the CPG membership in a spirit of collaboration and compromise.

As reported in our January 2015 special edition, CEPT put emphasis on preparing for the future of mobile broadband. It is of the view that globally harmonised spectrum is vital to realising all the benefits of ICT, i.e. economies of scale, ease of roaming and bridging the digital divide.

The CEPT administrations had various views on potential candidate bands, but reached an agreement for the proposals to identify the frequency bands 1427-1518 MHz and 3400-3800 MHz for IMT. It also agreed to allocate the latter band for mobile services on a primary basis.

Discussions continued right up until the very last minute about opportunities for sharing the frequency band 2700-2900 MHz between mobile broadband and existing radars (air-traffic and meteorological). However, in the absence of a visible solution in a foreseeable timeframe, CEPT agreed to maintain the current status in this band.

When it comes to the conditions related to the ‘extended digital dividend’ band (694 - 790 MHz), CEPT is adopting the same strategy it used in preparation for WRC-12 for the 800 MHz band. Then, it relied on successful bilateral coordination agreements between concerned administrations.

The Russian Federation and neighbouring countries have invested a lot of time and effort in reaching bilateral agreements and any ongoing bilateral discussions are expected to be finalised in time for the Conference.

Regarding frequency bands for Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR), Europe agrees on a flexible approach. On one hand, it wants to gain the benefits of worldwide harmonisation, which is important for vendors and manufacturers, but on the other hand it wants to leave detailed decisions at national level.

The approach includes a general framework in the Radio Regulations, whilst up-to-date information regarding available PPDR frequency ranges in different countries/regions should be specified using non-binding instruments, such as ITU-R Recommendations or Reports.

CEPT has a well-established tradition of supporting and promoting an active and rational use of orbit/spectrum resources. In that regard it has submitted to WRC-15 a set of proposals aimed at fostering the use of frequencies for satellite communications.

These proposals address two areas: improved regulatory procedures for getting access to orbit/spectrum resources; and additional frequency allocations to satellite services (for example, in the 8/7 GHz or 13 GHz ranges).

Most of the proposals in the field of satellite regulatory provisions build upon the decisions of WRC-12. For example:

  • CEPT aims to clarify certain issues that have emerged during the first years of implementation of new “bringing into use” and “suspension” mechanisms. CEPT also proposes to more clearly define the rights for protection against interference of incumbent satellite systems. It aims to prevent warehousing spectrum by claiming unrealistic protection requirements. Finally, some CEPT proposals consolidate the use of the 5 GHz frequency band by non-geostationary mobile-satellite systems, and propose to adapt the current regulations related to Earth Stations on board Vessels to new transmission technologies.
  • When it comes to additional Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) allocation in the frequency range between 10 GHz and 17 GHz, CEPT has a common proposal for the space-to-Earth direction. However, it has no proposal for the reverse direction due to diverging views on the use of the 14.5-14.8 GHz band.


CEPT has been quite successful in addressing the topic of Global Flight Tracking raised by the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014.

CEPT is proposing a two-step approach with a new allocation in 2015 for the satellite reception of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast messages from aircraft. This is in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards. It is also supporting a new agenda item for WRC-19 with the objective of achieving a global air traffic surveillance and management system.

Despite the fact that a decision was taken at the very last moment not to develop European Common Proposals on agenda items regarding Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) via FSS allocation (Agenda Item 1.5) and Leap Second (Agenda Item 1.141), Europe will participate actively in the discussions during the Conference in order to solve both issues.

Although still four years away, the initial development of agenda items for the next conference in 2019 is certain to be one of the hot topics at WRC-15. In this context, CEPT has already prepared 12 proposals for the 2019 agenda including:

  • Meterological Satellite service allocation at 460-470 MHz;
  • Use of 275-450 GHz by land mobile and fixed services;
  • New allocations for FSS (Earth-to-space) at 51.4-52.4 GHz and regulatory framework in the range 37.5-52.4 GHz;
  • New allocation(s) usable for small non-GSO satellites2;
  • Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS);
  • International regulations on maritime radio devices.

In line with the approach adopted by other Regions, CEPT also agreed with large support on an item about spectrum for future mobile broadband applications (often referred to as “5G”). This is focused on a limited number of bands above 24 GHz.

With the preparatory work finalised, CEPT is now ready - and in a strong position - to represent the interests of Europe in supporting policies that promote continuous efficient and effective use of radio spectrum and that bring the full benefits of ICT to the European economy and society.

Alexander Kuehn (Chairman of the ECC's CPG15), Alexandre Vallet (Co-chairman of the ECC's CPG PTB), Stella Lyubchenko (Spectrum Expert, ECO)

1 To read details regarding ‘Leap second’ item in the article: WRC-15 AI 1.14 (Co-ordinated Universal Time and Leap Seconds) please click here.
2 To read details regarding nano- and picosatellites in the article ‘Size matters for satellites – big or small’, please click here.

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