Protecting Satellite C-band and More at WRC-15
By Hazem Moakkit, Vice President, Corporate & Spectrum Strategy
For many of us in the satellite industry, protecting portions of C-band from being identified for land mobile communications was the key issue facing delegates at the recent World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15). We at Intelsat were very happy with the outcome of the industry’s efforts to protect satellite C-band – which could not have been accomplished without our customers also working to lobby their regulators around the world to have satellite spectrum recognized as essential.
Some 3,300 delegates from 162 countries gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for nearly the entire month of November to take part in the International Telecommunication Union’s quadrennial event. Intelsat’s delegation actively participated in the deliberations during the conference. The delegates considered more than 40 topics related to frequency allocation and the sharing of spectrum, ranging from the protection of search and rescue beacons to allocation of amateur radio frequencies.
There were a number of important decisions made by WRC-15 that will affect our customers in the years ahead:
• Agreed not to identify the C-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) as sought by the mobile industry. The IMT identification was predominantly limited to the 3.4-3.6 GHz band. Since most of Intelsat’s satellites operate above 3.6 GHz, Intelsat won’t be impacted by new mobile deployments.
• Allocated an additional 250 MHz for Ku FSS downlink (13.4-13.65 GHz) in Europe/Africa, known as Region 1. Delegates also added 300 MHz for Ku FSS uplink (14.5-14.8 GHz) in certain other countries. This decision will open up new spectrum for satellite operators and their customers.
• Determined that Ku/Ka bands could be used to support the command of unmanned aircraft in the future. This “legitimizes” the use of the FSS frequency allocations in Ku and Ka bands for flying of unmanned aircraft and enables growth of the commercial unmanned aircraft industry.
• Reduced the standard minimum size of a C-band antenna that can be used onboard ships from 2.4 meters to 1.2 meters. This reduction simplifies the licensing process for these terminals, and will support our Intelsat EpicNG satellites, which, due to their higher power, are perfectly suited to communicate with the smaller antennas.
• Decided that a discussion of using the Ka-band for IMT would NOT be on the agenda for WRC 2019. The mobile industry that sought to take a portion of the C-band had its sights set on other FSS frequencies.
For more on the outcome of the WRC-15, see the Satellite Spectrum Initiative, of which Intelsat is a member.
With the WRC-15 behind us, Intelsat will now turn to focus on the WRC-19, working collaboratively with the satellite industry to continue to raise awareness about the critical role that satellite technology plays in the broad communications landscape and the critical communications that we provide around the world on a daily basis.