ITU: Industries Battle For Greater Spectrum Allocation At WRC-15 10/11/2015 by Marianna Drake for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The mobile, satellite and broadcasting industries are campaigning for bigger shares of the finite resource that is radio-frequency spectrum at the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s treaty-making conference this month. And in an exhibition area alongside the conference, some of the world’s biggest tech companies are pitching their need for greater spectrum allocation in the hopes of influencing the conference’s outcomes. Among them is a project of Facebook, Google and others to connect the world. The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) brings together over 3000 delegates and 100 observers from ITU’s private sector members to negotiate the global management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) takes place once every three to four years, and the WRC-15 is in session over four weeks from 2 to 27 November. The entire month-long WRC is closed to press, according to ITU officials. The conference seeks to address a number of pressing issues of global interest, such as climate change monitoring, space research, road safety, the possible suppression of the leap second, and navigation systems, according to ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao’s editorial in ITU NEWS, an ITU publication. Zhao’s editorial sets out how the treaty-making conference must balance the “demands of services such as broadcasting, satellite, mobile broadband” and “radiolocation services” in order to reach a consensus on how to allocate the limited radio-frequency spectrum. WRC-15 Expo Showcases Far-Reaching Industry Innovations Alongside the conference, located on the periphery of the WRC-15 venue, there are a variety of industry exhibition stalls that bring to light the ardent arguments for greater spectrum allocation put forward by the competing industries. Entrance of WRC-15 Exhibitors Area Intellectual Property Watch took a closer look at some of the exhibition displays by the mobile, satellite and High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) industries. Mobile and Satellite Industries Duel for C-Band Spectrum A key debate at the conference is over the allocation of more spectrum to the mobile industry, which could come at the cost of some of the satellite industry’s spectrum, including C-band frequencies. Satellite industry group ESOA’s stall The satellite industry group ESOA, EMEA Satellite Operators Association, argue in a pamphlet that “satellite operators require additional spectrum to continue delivering high-quality content.” Furthermore, that spectrum “for existing services such as emergency communications also needs to be safeguarded” as they “are under threat from the mobile industry who wish to acquire core satellite spectrum.” A press release from LS telecom, a company providing enterprise solutions in frequency spectrum management, describes how the mobile industry has not yet used the entirety of the spectrum allocated to them. It states that “in most regions of the world at least 30% of spectrum for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) services is not yet licensed” and from that which is “licensed almost a quarter is not yet in service.” Richard Womersley, director of Spectrum Consulting at LS telecom, states in the press release that “there is clearly a need” for operators “to put their entire licensed spectrum into use before further spectrum is identified for IMT services at WRC-15.” Meanwhile, the mobile industry maintains that they must be allocated more spectrum at the WRC-15 in order to drive the continued global growth of mobile broadband. The GSMA, an industry body representing the interest of mobile operators worldwide, assert in their press release that worldwide “demand for mobile data is growing exponentially” and as “data traffic surges, networks will face a capacity crunch and spectrum is a critical element for ensuring continued high quality mobile communication.” Alex Sinclair, acting director general and chief technology officer at GSMA, in the press release emphasised that the WRC-15 provides governments with the “unique opportunity to ensure we have the spectrum necessary to drive digital inclusion and foster a robust mobile economy over the coming decade.” High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) to Connect the World One of the stalls at the exhibition put forward the case for greater allocation of spectrum for HAPS, unmanned planes flying at high altitudes that are capable of delivering broadband internet, and potentially connecting the four billion people in the world who remain offline. HAPS stall at WRC-15 Expo According to the stall’s prospectus, HAPS can fly in circles at approximately 20 kilometres above the ground, providing constant broadband services to “unserved and underserved communities with minimal ground infrastructure and maintenance.” Companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Nokia, have been working to develop this technology and believe in its potential to bridge the digital divide by filling “a critical gap in the portfolio of solutions for connecting the world.” Google’s advances in this area are being made through their Project Loon, which seeks to deliver internet to remote parts of the globe by using balloons released in the stratosphere. Meanwhile, the controversial Facebook-led project Internet.org has already made free access to certain basic internet services available to “more than a billion people” across 17 countries, according to an Internet.org press release. The HAPS used by Internet.org to provide internet connectivity to rural areas The HAPS stall’s pamphlet highlights how through the Connect 2020 Agenda, ITU Member States have committed to work towards the shared vision of “an information society” where “telecommunication/ICT enables and accelerates” social and economic growth. Yet attaining this aim requires Member States “to facilitate the development” of “new ideas and innovative approaches.” An intra-American proposal has been made by CITEL, the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission, inviting the ITU to “study more than 2 GHz of spectrum around the existing HAPS identification” with the hope of broadening the amount of spectrum allocated to HAPS. This would enable HAPS to provide improved broadband delivery and create the “economies of scale necessary to make the technology affordable.” Intellectual Property Watch spoke to Michael Tseytlin, director of engineering at Facebook, about their proposal. HAPS stall showcasing Facebook’s Internet.org initiative He said that 11 countries currently support the proposal, and that even if it does not pass at the WRC-15 countries are able to allocate their own national spectrum to enable HAPS services to be deployed in their own countries. Tseytlin highlighted how an update to the existing regulations of HAPS is important as the current spectrum allocation is small and does not allow for the provision of important services, such as voice over IP (VoIP). He explained how it is also important to consider the development of local content, as many people are not connecting to the internet because they do not understand how using it would benefit them. He described how Facebook is working hard on diversifying content in order for people to see the value the internet can bring to their lives. The outcomes of the WRC-15 will be presented at the closing plenary session on 27 November. Marianna Drake is an intern at Intellectual Property Watch and DiploFoundation. She has an LLB Honours in Law from King’s College London where she developed an interest in information technology law, internet governance and internet related intellectual property issues. Image Credits: Marianna Drake Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Marianna Drake may be reached at email@example.com."ITU: Industries Battle For Greater Spectrum Allocation At WRC-15" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.