World Radiocommunication Conference Concludes in Geneva

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 27, 2015

The 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) ended on November 27, after four weeks, concluding with agreements to identify additional spectrum bands for wireless broadband and approving the use of satellite links for Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS). The WRC-15 identified approximately 250 megahertz of effectively globally harmonized spectrum for mobile broadband, and in the Americas, some countries will have access to more than 500 megahertz (MHz). The Conference also approved the use of selected fixed satellite service links for command and control of long-range UAS. These systems will be used for multiple aviation applications, from disaster relief to meteorology, wildlife management and pipeline monitoring.

In addition, the WRC-15 set an agenda for its next Conference, in 2019, that calls for studying additional bands above 6 GHz for expanded mobile broadband capacity, setting the stage for the next generation of wireless networks. The WRC-19 will also consider spectrum allocations for High-Altitude Platform Systems, which will enable lower-cost delivery of bandwidth for developing economies and remote areas around the globe. The Conference moved to approve a measure for global flight tracking and established an agenda item for WRC-19 that will comprehensively explore further technological and regulatory needs for flight tracking and management under the aegis of the developing Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System.

Other key measures taken at WRC-15 included:

  • Adopting a regulatory framework for public protection and disaster relief applications that will pave the way for harmonization of spectrum in the 700-800 MHz range globally.
  • Approving an allocation for short-range radars in the 78 gigahertz (GHz) range. This will enable radars in automobiles that will help consumers around the world to avoid traffic accidents and save lives.
  • Adding a global, primary Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EESS) allocation in the 7 GHz band, and extending the worldwide EESS allocation in the 9 GHz band for use by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other space agencies.
  • Reducing regulatory restrictions on use of the 410-420 MHz band for space operations near orbiting vehicles – including the International Space Station.

The WRC is a global, inter-governmental treaty conference held every four years by the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations-affiliated international organization for telecommunications. The Conference that concluded today in Geneva, Switzerland, began November 2 and drew more than 3,000 delegates from more than 160 countries. Each WRC has the task of revising and updating the world’s Radio Regulations, a treaty that governs the allocation and use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbital locations globally.