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Telecommunication Masts
Telecommunication Masts

Source: Fotolia / Alberto Masnovo

Ensuring an efficient and smooth utilisation of the radio frequency spectrum by all radio services requires targeted, efficient and rational stewardship of the frequency resource. Due to the physical properties of electromagnetic waves, it is advisable to lay down global provisions in this area. This is the primary objective of the Radio Regulations, which contain both regulations as well as allocations of frequencies to individual radio services at international level.

At the same time, technical, economic and administrative changes require a continuous adaptation of the regulations and frequency allocations. The adaptation of the Radio Regulations falls within the responsibility of the World Radiocommunication Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which usually takes place every four years.

The next World Radiocommunication Conference will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 28 October to 22 November 2019. In accordance with resolution 809 of the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), the ITU Council has established the agenda of the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) with resolution 1380 in 2016.

The preparation of a World Radiocommunication Conference is a national, European and also international procedure, with the developments being interlinked. To make this procedure as transparent as possible, bundle the various interests and develop coordinated contributions after consulting public authorities, industry and academia, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has convened a national 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference preparation group (NVG WRC-19).

National World Radiocommunication Conference preparation group

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With the national WRC preparation group, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure intends to inform parties interested in using the frequency spectrum, such as manufacturers, operators and users, in a timely and comprehensive manner about intended modifications to the international frequency allocation plan and the national frequency plan. This will reduce the risk of planning errors and imprudent investment by manufacturers and service providers.

Moreover, all parties involved will be given the opportunity to bring their ideas regarding future frequency utilisation into the decision-making process of the national and international bodies within the framework of the agenda items of the World Radiocommunication Conference.

At the same time, the group creates the opportunity to present technological developments whose introduction might, in the future, require changes to the international frequency framework.

With this procedure, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will create the conditions for providing the expanding telecommunications markets with appropriate radio frequencies in a timely manner, taking the particularities of users of existing radio services into account, shaping both the frequency planning strategies and the procedures for implementing and/or updating these strategies in a transparent way and ensuring that sustainable adaptations to technological development are made.

Objectives of the national preparation group

  • Organize the national conference planning by establishing sub-working parties and appointing national coordinators
  • Provide information on the state of play of the WRC preparations
  • Discuss individual thematic fields for national proposals
  • Contribute actively to the preparation of the Conference within the framework of CEPT at European and ITU at international level
  • Develop German and/or common European proposals on the WRC

For more information and possibilities to register for the meetings, you need to be a member of the national preparation group or the relevant working parties. Interested parties should contact the contact point.

Organize the preparation of the World Radiocommunication Conference

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Preparatory procedure

In Germany, the preparation of a World Radiocommunication Conference falls within the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure; it is a national, European and also international procedure, with the developments being interlinked. To make this procedure as transparent as possible, bundle the various interests and develop coordinated contributions after consulting public authorities, industry and academia, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has convened a national 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference preparation group (NVG WRC-19).

The NVG is supported by working parties chaired by the Federal Network Agency that discuss the many and varied thematic fields comprehensively and in detail and develop specific proposals.

The national preparation group for the preparation of the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (NVG WRC-19) is chaired by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and, within the national preparation procedure, deals with consolidating the results of the working parties and possible items for future WRC agendas.

Working parties

Due to the diversity and complexity of the agenda items of WRC-19, it is not possible to discuss every detail in the national preparation group. For this reason, the NVG is supported by two working parties where the many and varied thematic fields can be discussed comprehensively and in detail with representatives from various public authorities, industry and academia. For this purpose, the working parties observe and assess both the international developments regarding the agenda items and possible solutions. What is more, they develop specific proposals for fleshing out the German position or the common European proposals on WRC-19. The working parties are chaired by the Federal Network Agency.

Within the preparatory procedure, working party 1 for the preparation of the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (AK 1 WRC-19) will address general regulatory issues, scientific radio services, satellite radio services and mobile radio.

By contrast, working party 2 for the preparation of the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (AK 2 WRC-19) will address issues with regard to aeronautical radio, maritime radio, amateur radio services as well as 5GHz WLAN.

WRC-15 review

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At the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) from 2 to 27 November, approximately 3,200 delegates from 162 member countries of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) negotiated on the future use of the frequency spectrum. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure headed the German Delegation in close cooperation with the Federal Network Agency. The WRC decides on the worldwide and regional allocation of frequency bands, for example for mobile radio, maritime and aeronautical navigation, broadcasting or satellite services. The results are observed by all Member States in international radio communication. The WRC is a decision-making body of the ITU, a specialized agency of the United Nations. It meets every four years.

After intensive negotiations, the provision of additional frequency spectrum for mobile radio services was one of the priorities of the Conference. The 700 MHZ band (694 - 790) will in the future be harmonized for mobile radio practically all around the world. Together with the parts of 1427-1518 MHz and the 3.4-3.6 GHz frequency range, it is now possible for the national spectrum management authorities to better respond to the sharply increasing mobile data traffic and broadband demand. In this context, Germany has successfully lobbied for planning and development certainty of broadcasting in the 600 MHz band (470-694 MHz); in ITU region 1 (Europe, Africa, Middle East and Central Asia), this frequency band will remain reserved exclusively for terrestrial television broadcasting (DVB-T2) at least until 2023.

WRC-15 has created the conditions with regard to frequency rights for Global Flight Tracking and for managing and monitoring unmanned air traffic via satellite. On this basis, air safety authorities are now able to develop strategies for the safe operation of these emerging technologies.

Moreover, it was decided to extend the frequency spectrum for short-range radar services to facilitate safe driving. This harmonized extension is an important contribution to the development of modern driver assistance systems. Such systems are a key component of automated driving. The extension of the frequency spectrum for radar-based earth observation with an unprecedented, almost optical resolution was another success of the negotiations.

The establishment of the agenda for the next 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference is also a landmark decision of WRC-15. It specifies which studies will be carried out over the next four years as a basis for the decisions of WRC-19. These studies provide significant impetus to current and future research projects. The projects for 2019 include, among other things, the further development of WLAN technology to meet the increasing data traffic. What is more, the harmonization of the radio frequencies for intelligent traffic management systems or communications applications of connected driving is to be supported, including in the railway sector for train control command systems and their communications needs.
The WRC-15 has laid the groundwork for the evolution of the next mobile communications standard, 5G, as the parties involved agreed on frequency ranges that are to be analysed with regard to their suitability for 5G. This decision is an important contribution to the 5G research projects which are currently in full swing worldwide and are now able to focus on specific frequency bands. Suitable frequency bands for worldwide harmonization will be allocated at the next WRC in 2019 on the basis of the compatibility studies that are now starting. The frequency band already available for mobile radio, too, will become an integral part of 5G.