Global Satellite Spectrum Battle Is Not Over

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  Space News Business

Global Satellite Spectrum Battle Is Not Over

By DAVID HARTSHORN

posted: 07 April 2008
02:55 pm ET





W
hile the satellite industry’s recent success at the International Telecommunications Union
World Radiocommunications Conference 2007 (WRC-07) demonstrated our sector’s ability to gain and sustain spectrum, the industry must continue to ensure that these gains are consolidated. The urgency of this requirement is underlined as communications companies and governments around the world continue to report incidents where satellite services are being severely disrupted by interference from terrestrial wireless deployments in the
extended
�and standard C-band frequencies.

 

Meanwhile, entities such as Intel, Motorola
�and Nokia continue to lobby for national administrations to permit deployments in C-band for next-generation
broadband wireless access
�and IMT-2000 services – to the exclusion of satellite services. As this publication went to press, satellite spectrum was being vigorously pursued by terrestrial-wireless interests in nations throughout Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East. If successful, such efforts would lead to a significant loss in revenue for the satellite industry, and constitute a severe blow to the user community that has come to depend upon satellite services in the C-band.

 

Further, experiences of the satellite industry during WRC-07 underscore the need for a more comprehensive campaign to assure continued access not only to C-band, but to all satellite spectrum, including L-, X-, Ku-, Ka-band and other frequencies. Without such a campaign,
the industry will be forced to expend vast resources to defend our spectrum before and during each successive WRC.

To address these challenges, the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) has secured an international consensus to launch a Spectrum Security Initiative. The consensus includes closely
�aligned associations worldwide, as well as dozens of leading industry executives who represent not only the fixed and mobile satellite operators, but also satellite manufacturers, launch service providers
�and other concerned sectors.

 

The initiative is being coordinated by GVF, and supported by industry lobbyists and advisors Access Partnership, which played an instrumental role in securing a successful outcome for the satellite industry at WRC-07. Indeed, the new initiative draws upon all of the resources, relationships and instruments established for WRC-07 and is being applied globally across five fronts.

 

Governmental Views on the C-Band

 

As an outcome of WRC-07, more than 70 national administrations
opted in
�to a footnote, reserving the right to permit deployments of IMT, or international mobile telecommunications, services in the C-band. The
initiative will ascertain what plans these administrations have for
satellite
or other
�services in C-band, what timescale they are working to, and provide clarifications of the regulatory, technical, commercial
�and political implications of allowing IMT deployment in the C-band. This will be undertaken with a view to disinclining administrations to use C-band for non-satellite services
.

 

Consolidating Governmental Support

 

The importance of preserving L-, X-, Ku-, Ka-band and other frequencies
�for delivery of satellite services must be forcefully impressed upon national administrations. The approach taken to inform government decisions will be similar to that employed before and during WRC-07: The campaign will be waged at the global level through the International Telecommunications Union
, regionally through inter
governmental groups
�and
directly to national administrations.

 

Educating Governments and Industry

 

The satellite industry must understand the different technologies that will be rolled out in the C-band; their different capabilities are likely to require sophisticated treatment with national regulatory authorities. For example, in addressing the interference caused by WiMAX, the industry must distinguish between two similar but separate technologies, each requiring a different regulatory and policy approach. Strategies must take into account those countries seeking primarily to bridge the
digital
divide
, and those planning only for greater connectivity for the business community. At this stage the main threat to the C-band comes from commercial deployment of WiMAX technologies. However, other IMT technologies
also will look to the C-band for additional spectrum in the coming years – most notably LTE, or long-term evolution
�- which
also must be addressed.

 

Coordinating Commercial Interests

 

Support will be enlisted from the satellite industry, including operators and licensed networks, and others with a direct interest and a local presence in the country concerned. GVF will engage its counterparts in the terrestrial-wireless sector, including the WiMAX Forum, the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) Forum and the GSM (Global System for Mobile) Association. The principal goal will be to heighten awareness about the competitive advantages afforded to terrestrial-wireless operators who use satellite backhauls to extend their market reach, and the sector will be educated on the commercial and technical disadvantages that would accrue from deploying at C-band, as well as the advantages to be realized by operating IMT services at lower frequencies, which requires fewer base stations and enables lower costs and higher margins.

 

Sustaining Support of the User Community

 

During WRC-07, endorsements and lobbying from user groups was important to the success of the satellite industry’s campaign. These groups included the World Broadcasting Union, the United Nations, non
governmental organizations
�and others. GVF and Access Partnership have maintained links with these organizations and are calling upon them for support throughout this next phase of the campaign.

As with last year’s effort at WRC-07, the task before our industry is enormous: We must reach every government in the world. Representation must be established – and maintained – in all relevant national, regional and global forums. We have to rally the user community. Our industry’s value proposition must be
articulated clearly for every band of satellite spectrum, or
�quite simply
�we will lose it. And we face the same formidable opposition that was engaged at WRC-07
�- except they no longer underestimate the satellite industry and are redoubling their efforts to secure spectrum.

 

In immediate terms, fixed WiMAX (802.16d)
already is being deployed in fixed satellite services
�bands around the world, causing severe interference. Numerous 4G technologies such as LTE and Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) will pursue spectrum in the satellite bands, particularly if they detect vulnerability. We call upon the satellite industry to build upon our shared success at WRC-07 and – now more than ever – assure access to spectrum for the delivery of satellite products and services.

 

David Hartshorn is secretary general of the Global VSAT Forum.