The chairman of the recent meeting of global regulators to set priorities on wireless broadcast frequencies said the satellite industry’s claim of victory in protecting its access to C-band spectrum should not be overstated.

More than 140 nations signed footnotes preserving their rights to deploy broadband wireless terrestrial technologies, such as WiMax, in their territories, despite the fact that satellite services in most cases cannot coexist with them,

Francois Rancy said.

“Signing the footnote gives these nations the choice of determining on their own how they will proceed,” Rancy said in a Nov. 23 interview.


director of France’s National Frequencies Agency, was chairman of the most recent World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), a quadrennial meeting of the world’s satellite orbital slot and wireless broadcast frequency regulators. WRC-07 was held Oct. 22-Nov. 16 in Geneva.

During the meeting, the major satellite-fleet operators lobbied hard to prevent broadband wireless terrestrial services from being granted access to frequencies located between 3.4 gigahertz and 4.2 gigahertz on the radio spectrum, a portion of what is known as C-band.

Most European nations were in favor of opening up this portion of C-band to WiMax and other wireless services. Satellite-fleet operators said that doing so would disrupt hundreds of thousands of C-band satellite antennas deployed for television and other telecommunications uses, especially in regions with heavy rainfall.

C-band is more resistant than Ku-band to signal dilution during heavy rain, which partly explains its continued popularity in parts of Asia, Africa and South America.

Satellite industry officials had said giving terrestrial technologies

global access to C-band, and thus ending the priority that satellite transmissions

traditionally have enjoyed, would send a signal to terrestrial equipment manufacturers

that they could ramp up production

to serve a global market.

The compromise reached during the final days of WRC-07 retained the priority given to satellite broadcasts, meaning that in cases of interference, the terrestrial transmission must adjust its signal.

No global authorization was given in the 3.4-4.2 gigahertz

bands. In addition, WRC delegates agreed that nations deploying terrestrial wireless networks anywhere in this band must curb their broadcasts so as not to disturb the operation of satellite networks in neighboring nations.

agreed that these two points should be viewed as victories for the “No Change” campaign waged by several satellite companies and the governments backing them.

But the number of nations signing a footnote to the final agreement insisting on their right to deploy terrestrial technologies in the 3.4.-3.6 gigahertz

piece of C-band is substantial.

said 24 nations in Africa and eight in the Middle East, plus the 80-odd other national delegations in Europe and surrounding region, signed the footnote preserving their right to use a portion of C-band for terrestrial wireless networks.

In addition, nine Asian nations – including China and India, which together have about one-third of the world’s population – signed the footnote. Fourteen South American nations did so as well.

So in terms of population,

half the world insisted on the right to use a portion of C-band spectrum for terrestrial wireless networks.

“What was preserved for the satellite sector was the 3.6-4.2 GHz portion, which is what is most important to this industry anyway,” Rancy said. “For 3.4-3.6 GHz, having the footnote signed by so many nations is important for equipment manufacturers.”

Gregory Francis, managing director of the telecommunications consultancy Access Partnership Ltd. of London, said the WRC decision nonetheless puts substantial hurdles in front of C-band access by terrestrial networks.

“When an equipment manufacturer looks at the patchwork of nations that signed the footnote, and sees the draconian measures that need to be taken to avoid interference across borders

, I think he will think twice” before using the frequency, said Francis, whose company was hired by satellite-fleet operators to lobby on behalf of the “No Change” position.

“They are permitted to operate at such extremely low power levels to avoid interference across borders

that terrestrial network operators will want to look elsewhere for spectrum in which to operate,” Francis said. “And the fact is that many of the nations signing the footnote have no intention of deploying terrestrial networks in these bands. They just want to preserve their options.”