[Shenzhen, China, December 14, 2015] More than 3300 delegates from 162 countries attended the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 in Geneva for four weeks in November. Among other important decisions, Governments throughout the world took responsibility for fundamental decisions on the additional spectrum to be made available for IMT systems in the next ten years and beyond. Their complex task involved balancing the interests of various sectors while maximizing socio-economic benefits.
At Huawei, we are fully aware of the challenges that this balancing act poses. We believe that the decisions taken at WRC-15 represent a good step forward to address the diverse broadband needs around the world. The conference certainly represents an important step forward in the dialogue among industries. Yet, the expectations from the mobile industry were not fully met, especially in the CEPT and APT regions: more decisive action is required to enable this industry to drive positive change as we keep moving towards a better connected world.
What was achieved?
We welcome the further expansion of the digital dividend bands. The 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) moved towards global identification for IMT with the agreement on harmonization measures in ITU-R Region 1 (EMEA) and with more Region 3 (Asia-Pacific) countries joining the footnote. Divergent approaches emerged regarding the UHF band (470-694 MHz) currently used for terrestrial TV broadcasting. A number of countries comprising about half of the population in Region 2 (Americas) and Region 3 (Asia-Pacific) agreed to identify this frequency range for IMT, taking a key step forward towards future multimedia services. Region 1 (EMEA) decided to postpone any decision in this regard until the future WRC in 2023.
Building on the existing global co-primary allocation to the mobile service across the three regions, the L-Band (1427-1518 MHz) moved towards global identification for IMT. It is however worth noting that CEPT countries, where the 1452-1492 MHz frequencies are already auctioned to mobile operators, were unable to ratify the strict conditions attached to the IMT identification.
The decision on the nearly global harmonization of the 3400-3600 MHz band also represents a step in the right direction, the band having been identified for IMT in the whole of Region 1 and Region 2. More countries from Region 3 joined China, India, Japan and Korea in supporting the IMT identification in this band. We regret the fact that no global consensus on harmonization of the 3600-3800 MHz band could be reached, while appreciating the identification of 3600-3700 MHz for IMT in some countries in Region 2. The adjacent 3300-3400 MHz portion of spectrum was identified for IMT for the first time with 33 countries in Africa, 6 in Latin America and 6 in the Asia Pacific (including India).
Similarly, proposals for identification of spectrum in the upper C-Band (3800-4200 MHz) and the 4 GHz band (4400-4500 MHz and 4800-4990 MHz) only resulted in a partial IMT identification for the 4800-4990 MHz range.
The conference also paved the way for future development of IMT by deciding which frequency ranges will be discussed at WRC-19 for possible identification, taking into account the need for ensuring the continued operation of existing services. Consensus was reached on a number of frequencies within the 24.25–86 GHz range.
Where do we go from here?
WRC-15 could not meet the mobile communications requirement for 1340 to 1960 MHz of spectrum by 2020 as defined two years ago by the ITU-R. This is no time for complacency: we need to join forces with partners in the public and private sectors to continue delivering win-win results, and to protect existing investments while unleashing the mobile industry’s huge potential.
At Huawei, we are eager to join this effort, seeking constructive cooperation across sectors. Our company is working to help develop viable ecosystems for the frequency bands that were made available for mobile broadband by the Conference.
We look forward to working with partners in order to ensure the most effective use of the 470-694 MHz spectrum with a view to achieving convergence between broadcasting and mobile services for delivering a next-generation multimedia experience to the end user. We will continue to work at national and regional levels to leverage the positive experiences of those countries that decide to implement IMT in this important portion of spectrum and to utilize these in support of future decisions by other countries and regions.
The C-band needs to be further explored. As the spectrum utilization grows, cooperation among industries should leverage the complementarities of different platforms; e.g. IMT-based ultra fast mobile broadband connectivity in urban areas coexisting with satellite services in the same band in less densely populated areas. The nearly global IMT identification of the 3400-3600 MHz represents a solid baseline for the availability of the C-Band (3300-3800 MHz) for IMT in the long term. The same equipment may support a number of sub-bands in the 3300-3800 MHz range accounting for the fact that some portions within this range may not be available for IMT in each country. The availability and efficient use of the spectrum can then be realized at national and regional levels; if needed, the establishment of national frameworks for sharing of spectrum between IMT and FSS can allow operation of IMT networks in up to 200 to 400 MHz of bandwidth within the 3300-3800 MHz range.
The industry has begun investing significant efforts in innovating and developing equipment for bands within 24.25 - 86 GHz to provide ultra-high data rates and high capacity services as demanded by 5G. We look forward to the future availability of globally harmonized spectrum which would facilitate the build-up of new successful ecosystems in these bands.
Global spectrum harmonization remains a key objective for the mobile industry which recognizes ITU-R as an enabler in this process. Getting there will require consistent efforts in which stakeholders have to work together at national, regional and global levels to enable optimal use of this scarce resource, key to a better connected tomorrow.