Regulation | Spectrum Management
October 29, 2019

WRC-19: Representing Europe

by Alexander Kühn, Chairman, Conference Preparatory Group, The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)

The long and exciting process of preparations for the World Radiocommunication Conference will culminate in four weeks of intense international negotiations in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2019.

As in the past, Europe’s views and positions on the different agenda items and issues are being prepared by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) through the work of the Electronics Communications Committee (ECC) Conference Preparatory Group (CPG).

Cooperating with other regions on spectrum regulation

CEPT has set the wheels in motion to initiate essential exchange and cooperation with all other five regional groups representing the global key CEPT partners on international spectrum regulation. It has been, and still is, the strength of consensual decisions at the ITU level which facilitates the efficient and effective use of spectrum beyond territorial borders.


As there is a certain dependency between many of the different agenda items, a good balance, which provides room for newcomers and incumbents, is key to the success of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC‑19).

The exchange of views between the different regional groups has intensified over recent years and has proven successful, resulting in common views on a number of agenda items prior to the start of WRC‑19. This is a clear response to the highly dynamic developments in radiocommunications and the growth of a global understanding that worldwide allocations and harmonization of spectrum use are essential elements of a forward-looking spectrum policy in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

CEPT proposals — addressing the needs of existing and future radio

CEPT proposals on WRC‑19 issues are forward looking and well balanced to address the needs of the existing and future radio services. “Connectivity everywhere” could be one of the main headlines of WRC‑19. Wireless broadband is crucial for the “gigabit society” and WRC‑19 will consider the identification of frequency bands for the future development of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT-2020 — aka 5G) including possible additional allocations to the mobile service.

CEPT is looking for the worldwide harmonization of bands and usage conditions, by proposing at least 11.25 GHz total bandwidth for IMT, while ensuring a balance with existing other services through appropriate measures. Such measures are chosen to ensure in particular the full operability of meteorological systems.

Furthermore, CEPT is seeking the harmonized international regulation of satellite broadband connectivity on-board aircrafts, ships and trains. In addition, wireless access systems are used in cars worldwide, which makes it necessary to harmonize such usage of low power wireless access systems/radio local area networks (WAS/RLAN) in the 5 GHz range.

Setting the scene for next generation RLAN

It is also time for us to set the scene for the possible next generation of RLAN using Terahertzspectrum above 275 GHz. And finally, no access system  may work without backhaul. Thus, CEPT supports harmonized spectrum for high altitude platform stations in the fixed service, which will have the capability of providing connectivity to unconnected or remote areas.

It has been, and still is, the strength of consensual decisions at the ITU level which facilitates the efficient and effective use of spectrum beyond territorial borders.

Safety and security in the air and at sea

Safety and security in the air and at sea are necessary for global mobility and trade. Therefore, CEPT supports regulatory actions on the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) and Global Maritime Distress Safety Systems (GMDSS). This includes acknowledgement of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s intensive activities, and the International Maritime Organization’s strategic decision on a new satellite provider of GMDSS, as well as spectrum for autonomous maritime devices.

Looking into space

Looking into space, CEPT is supportive of solutions for short satellite missions addressing the spectrum needs for telemetry, tracking and command of small and medium enterprises as well as academia. This leads to future space radiocommunications, and a new balance between geostationary systems and non-geostationary satellite networks in the millimetre wave spectrum needs to be found. In this context, a question on the formal limits of an agenda item has been raised again. In the past, administrations have always shown their pragmatism if the necessary technical information were available. Hence, I am optimistic that WRC‑19 will find the best solution for this balance and will provide certainty and clarity.

Regulatory questions on new developments

WRC‑19 is also at a crossroads and needs to find common ways into the future for regulatory questions on several new developments, such as mega-constellations with thousands of satellites on the one hand, and appropriate requirements for short duration missions on the other, or an effective protection of distress satellite systems (COSPAS-SARSAT) and passive services, i.e. radioastronomy or the Earth Exploration-Satellite Service (EESS).

More specific international provisions

Some terrestrial applications, such as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), radiocommunications between train and tracksides, or the impact of wireless charging electric vehicles, indicate a trend towards more specific international provisions. This raises a particular concern about what World Radiocommunication Conferences should deal with. Although it seems favourable to satisfy the needs of those specific applications, it will attract others, which may mean that future WRCs will be unable to handle all kinds of radio applications within their time limits. Therefore, CEPT favours to keep such issues of harmonization measures and studies for specific applications within the remit of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–R), and the Radiocommunication Assembly (RA), where they get a similar level of global attention as from a WRC.

Finally, what keeps me optimistic is knowing that the WRC process is still a huge success for ITU. Numerous proposals for WRC‑23 have already been received by CEPT on all types of services, to amend the international framework further. We will now start to circulate these ideas among the other regional partner groups in order to find those agenda items of global and regional interest at WRC‑19, that can be successfully studied.

In summary, this WRC will once again address something important for everyone!

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WRC-19: Representing Europe

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