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Progress on BSS and UHF Band Issues at WRC-12

7 February, 2012: The first two days this week, ITU’s WRC-12 conference saw some positive advances on two broadcasting agenda items. WRC-12 is currently moving away from the drafting phase and into Committee phase where decisions and related text is reviewed in larger groups. The WRC will conclude its deliberations on 17 February, with the adoption and signing of the Final Acts. 

The BSS agenda item has made some progress on the crucial issue of providing preferential treatment to those countries who have not filed their satellite systems with the ITU in this band.

In line with ITU’s concept of providing equitable access to frequency spectrum, discussions were held attempting to find a compromise in the position of the ‘pro-preferential’ and ‘anti-preferential’ treatment groups. This morning, a compromise proposal was unveiled which seems to meet some of the requirements of both the parties. Under this proposal, one single filing of countries (who have not filed BSS systems so far) will be allowed to ‘jump the queue’ and be put in front of systems not processed yet by the ITU. Filings under process will not be disturbed. In addition, the ‘jumped’ filings will be provided a less stringent coordination framework (pfd mask) than the already filed systems. There was muted agreement on this proposal and many experts believe that this could be the basis of a broad consensus on this crucial issue, something which remains to be seen.

On sharing of the upper portion of the UHF band with mobile service (1.17), two opposing sides have emerged; those who want to include consideration of ‘cumulative’ interference effect of multiple mobile base stations to TV receivers and those who do not. This difference of opinion has percolated down to the regulatory text that was drafted on Monday and it contains the two opposing views.

Efforts are on to narrow down the sharp differences between the two groups. It is expected that a compromise solution will be evolved. If that emerges, this will go a long way in helping broadcasters to make sure that the TV services in these frequency bands are adequately protected. This could also impede, to some extent, the mobile operators’ intrusion into the TV spectrum.

Sharad Sadhu, ABU