European Space Agency

Preparations for the World radio Conference 2019 Preparations for the World radio Conference 2019


The activity has been initiated to provide support to the European and Canadian industry such that the outcome of the WRC-19 would be favourable to the satellite communication sector as a whole. 

Avanti has implemented the activity, and has categorised in collaboration with TIA and satellite sector the WRC-19 agenda items that are either “High threat”, “Low threat” or “Opportunity” for satellite services. The JCB has been briefed on these threats and opportunities.

A topic which was considered High threat, were the increased pressure from mobile operator community to access satellite spectrum.  The activity, in collaboration with the satellite industry is did everything possible to avoid access to satellite bands identified by the WRC-19 resolution even though it seems likely that over 20 GHz of additional spectrum will be identified for IMT-2020 / 5G. The activity provided at numerous occasions material to advocate solutions and compromises that would be in favour of the satellite industry.


A topic which was considered of Low threat was for possible additional measures in order to limit uplink transmissions of terminals to those authorized terminals, and the possible methods that will assist administrations in managing the unauthorized operation of earth station. After some research this proved to be more a political driven agenda item with limited practical regulatory impact.

Opportunities were identified by this activity in the area of short duration satellite. This is a topic often associated with New Space – embarking on fast technology demonstration that cannot use the satellite amateur frequencies. This could be a positive development for e.g. Pioneer programme and other ARTES IOD/IOV activities. 

The initial idea to use C-band in NGSO (e.g. for M2M/IoT constellations) was also considered an opportunity. Initially this was proposed by Boeing, but not sufficient support was available and no further effort was spent in turning this into a positive outcome.

With regards to the opportunity for future NGSO constellations using Q/V-band, the activity contributed to the discussion on a new regulatory framework for these type of constellations – which was up to now non-existent.

In addition to more general WRC-19 topic, a number of ad-hoc and dedicated support actions have been initiated, on topics listed below:

  • An overview of the progress in the world-wide preparations for new regulatory procedures for bring into use non-geostationary fixed satellite systems (NGSO BIU rules) has been considered.
  • The practical feasibility of coordinating and operating Ka-band inter-satellite links (ISL’s) if a number of networks is realised and whether the situations is perhaps better at 32.3-33.0 or 60 GHz has been examined. It is concluded that it is practical feasibility to coordinate and operate Ka-band ISL’s if a number of networks is realised and that the likelihood for successful coordination is better at 32.3-33.0 or 60 GHz. However, a significant number of ISLs for both NGSO and GSO systems and networks are planned for the range 54.25-71 GHz. This reduces the likelihood that coordination will be successful.
  • A frequency allocation at 4 200-4 400 MHz has been made for wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC). The implications arising from the use of the 4 200-4 400 MHz band for intra- and possible inter-satellite systems has been examined. If the recommended EIRP limits on WAIC systems to protect radio altimeters are adhered to it would not be possible to close the typical GSO link budget using aircraft earth station antennas of ≤ 0.4m diameter for either intra- or inter-satellite GEO satellite systems to provide WAIC for aircraft-to-aircraft communications.
  • The relative priority of certain non-European MSS filings have been examined and the likelihood of coordination with incumbent systems assessed. The projected use of the 1 980-2 010 and 2 270-2 200 MHz bands for machine-to-machine communications within the 5G / IMT-2020 vision is adding pressure on administrations to open these bands for terrestrial services. The priority of satellite filings and the ability to coordinate these is unlikely to influence the views of administrations and terrestrial mobile interests intent on pursuing sub-6 GHz allocations.
  • How the military spectrum is re-used and sub-licensed to allow innovative (possible short duration) systems to be piloted has been investigated. At a national level the role of the military in spectrum management varies greatly and depends on whether national allocation tables have a legal basis or not. In some European countries access to NATO harmonised spectrum for civil satellite communications is subject to very strict controls.  But in countries where the role of the military is limited to the authorisation of military uses only, the national regulatory authority will be responsible either directly or by negotiation with the military.
  • Commercially and proprietary software tools for analysing international Frequency coordination (IFIC) publications and interference analysis and their suitability have been examined and demonstrated. It is concluded that no single commercial tool and none of the Radiocommunication Bureau tools can provide all of the analysis that ESA might need to assess orbital slots and the viability or value of frequency assignments. However, these tools are excellent at managing, validating and harnessing the data needed for the analysis that ESA is considering. One area where public and commercial databases do not provide accurate or reliable, up to date information is information on real operational satellites. An analysis of real operational satellites still requires an in-depth industry knowledge to supplement and clarify that publically available data.

The results of the activity can best me measured against the positive outcome for the satellite industry at WRC-19, on which the JCB will be briefed.

As a follow-up, another ARTES Future Preparation activity has started (“Spectrum strategies for WRC-19”) which has taken up some of the findings from this contract.

Lessons learned from the activity are:

  • Actions to e.g. counter certain regulatory development cannot be planned in advance: flexible mechanisms need to be in place to react, gather support in the satellite community, prepare opposing views and travel to meetings were decisions are taken.
  • It takes a lot of effort to consolidate views, also within the satellite industry itself. This was underestimated in the beginning of the activity.

Current status

The project has been completed in 2018.

Status date

Monday, February 17, 2020 - 14:12