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Ofcom preps for World Radiocommunication

2012 looming

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Ofcom has laid out its plans for the World Radiocommunication Conference 2012, and it's seeking input from anyone who cares enough to comment.

The conference is still three years off, but the agenda was laid out in 2003 and then tweaked in 2007, so its high time Ofcom decided what its going to care about when everyone gets together in Geneva to discuss international radio issues in January 2012.

The International Telecommunications Union runs the WRC, and it's supposed to happen every four years but this one got shuffled from the end of 2011 into the start of 2012 'cos of scheduling issues. The conference is an opportunity for regulators to argue about radio signals leaking across borders, and spectrum use that has to be agreed internationally - such as satellite communication systems.

Ofcom is planning to push for less regulation, as is its want, and plans to oppose additional allocations around 22GHz for satellite TV unless there's a very clear business justification. The UK's regulator is equally suspicious of the business case behind satellite services for mobile handsets, and it sees no reason for more spectrum to be allocated to such services.

Closer to earth, slightly, are High Altitude Platform Stations - broadband routed through balloons, airships or equally flimsy aircraft. The HAPS crowd would like some spectrum between 5.8 and 7GHz, though Ofcom is more concerned if such services would interfere with existing microwave links on the ground.

The WRC is considering harmonisation of PMSE (Programme Making & Special Events) spectrum to make kit cheaper, but Ofcom is having enough problems finding space for radio mics and feedback links used by the PMSE industry so wants any such harmonisation to be entirely voluntary.

The US regulator, the FCC, is keen to see some spectrum reserved for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but breaking with the British tradition of endorsing what the Americans say, Ofcom is quite cool on the idea and wants to know if anyone else feels strongly about it.

Among the more esoteric items on the agenda are talk of reserving spectrum for interplanetary exploration, and a discussion about the risks of very low frequency systems used to communicate with submarines (around 20Khz) interfering with lightening detection systems in the UK.

But if you feel strongly about that, or any of the other items being discussed (pdf), then Ofcom would be delighted to hear from you, as long as you get your submission in before the 5th of February 2010. ®

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