GSMA, EBU satisfied with WRC-15 spectrum allocations

The mobile and broadcasting industries both have something to cheer about following the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), which ends in Geneva on Friday.

Although the final outcome and analysis are to be provided at an ITU press conference after FierceWireless:Europe goes to press, both the GSMA and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have commented favourably on the decisions that benefit their respective markets.

The GSMA applauded the WRC-15 decision to expand the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) from a regionally harmonised band in the Americas and Asia Pacific to a global one, for example.

The GSMA has also called on governments to agree a harmonisation plan to enable sub-700 MHz spectrum, which covers frequencies from 470 MHz to 694 MHz, to be used for both mobile broadband and broadcast.

Although the WRC-15 took the decision that the 470-694 MHz band will remain exclusively allocated to terrestrial TV services in ITU "Region 1" -- which includes Europe, Africa and the Middle East -- the GSMA said some major markets such as the U.S., Mexico and Canada are supporting a mobile broadband allocation for the whole of the sub-700 MHz band (470-698 MHz).

In comments emailed to FW:E, Brett Tarnutzer, head of spectrum at the GSMA, said those governments "have importantly retained the option of reallocating more spectrum to mobile if required. We expect more to follow their example.

"Sub-700 MHz spectrum is a natural extension of the Digital Dividend band above it (700/800 MHz bands), which offers the advantage of allocating contiguous blocks of spectrum for mobile broadband use. We look forward to seeing how international support builds for future mobile allocation below 610/4 MHz," Tarnutzer said.

John Giusti, the GSMA's chief regulatory officer for the GSMA, earlier stated that the association commends "the vision" shown by many countries seeking the flexibility to use the sub-700 MHz band (especially 610-694/698 MHz) for mobile broadband.

"The sub-700 MHz band is now available for mobile in markets covering more than half the population of the Americas and, in addition, several major markets within the Indian subcontinent announced their intention to use part of this band for mobile broadband. This WRC-15 decision represents a significant milestone in building momentum towards global harmonisation," he said.

The EBU, meanwhile, was clearly jubilant that that there would be no change to the allocation in the 470-694 MHz band in Region 1 either now or at the next WRC in 2019.

"Instead there will be a review of the spectrum use in the entire UHF band (470-960 MHz) at the WRC in 2023. Only then will it be decided whether to make further changes to the Radio Regulations. This added security will enable many countries in ITU Region 1 to continue with their digital switchover programmes without the risk of an impending change in use of the spectrum," the EBU said in its statement.

The GSMA further welcomed support for the global harmonisation of 200 MHz of the C-band (3.4-3.6 GHz) to meet capacity requirements in urban areas, as well as the decision to globally harmonise the L-band (1427-1518 MHz).

Importantly for the mobile industry, the WRC-15 also agreed a new agenda item for WRC-19 to identify high-frequency bands above 24 GHz for 5G mobile services.

For more:
- see the GSMA statement
- read the EBU statement

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