WRC-23 Concludes with Wins for Amateur Radio and Agenda Items Designated for the Next Two Events
By International Amateur Radio Union Secretary Joel Harrison, W5ZN
After 4 hectic weeks of the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), and a preceding week of Radiocommunication Assembly meetings, WRC-23 concluded on Friday, December 15. Amateur radio fared very well overall, despite the enormous pressures across the radio spectrum from LF to terahertz. This is a tribute to the effort of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) team, who at times had to work from 8:00 AM to as late as 2:00 AM the next morning, as well as on the weekends.
At the top of the amateur radio priority list was Agenda Item (AI) 9.1b, regarding the coexistence of the secondary amateur and amateur-satellite allocation with the primary radionavigation satellite service in the 1240 – 1300 MHz band. This had seen 4 years of strenuous effort prior to WRC and resulted in a recommendation being agreed upon at the Radiocommunication Assembly, followed by WRC-23 participants agreeing to mention the recommendation in a new footnote for the allocation. Both the recommendation and the footnote are an excellent outcome for the amateur services.
Other items were relevant to the amateur service and were prioritized beforehand:
AI 1.12: 40 – 50 MHz radar sounders. These are now largely limited to the polar area.
AI 1.14: 231.5 – 252 GHz re-allocations for Earth sensing. Fortunately, our secondary 241 – 248 GHz allocation is unchanged, and the primary allocation of 248 – 250 GHz is unaffected.
AI 9.1a: Space weather sensors were an item of major interest. A clear definition for such sensors was confirmed, with frequency protection being agreed upon as an agenda item for WRC-27.
AI 1.2: More broadband in the 3.3 GHz and 10 GHz bands (in Region 2). This is a difficult challenge, as the amateur services are secondary with numerous (mainly South American) countries allocating mobile broadband by way of footnotes. Instead of a region-wide designation for IMT at 10.0 – 10.5 GHz in Region 2, there is a footnote limited to a dozen countries.
Every WRC agreed to an agenda for the next conference under AI 10. This AI had an unprecedented number of proposals for WRC-27 and preliminary ones for WRC-31. Following the relatively quick agreement on AI 9.1b, the IARU team switched most of its efforts to the following future proposals to reduce the impact on the amateur services, as numerous amateur bands were under consideration.
The WRC-27 agenda will have 19 items. The following are the most relevant to the amateur services:
1300 – 1350 MHz: A previous proposal for this band, adjacent to 23 centimeters, was suppressed, providing certainty for our secondary allocation.
Space Weather: This potential AI was initially very concerning, as the 0.1 – 20 MHz and 28 and 50 MHz bands were initially under consideration, until concerns were raised, and a team effort resulted in these allocations being removed from the topic.
Lunar Communications: This future agenda item initially included 70 centimeters and other bands where Earth-moon-Earth could be restricted. Fortunately, the UHF aspect of this AI was modified to exclude 430 – 440 MHz.
10 GHz: We were fortunate that this band was withdrawn from another round of consideration for mobile broadband, especially in Region 1.
A record number of preliminary item resolutions were agreed on. The following two are especially relevant:
Wireless Power Transmission (WPT): Both near-field and beamed are being considered as part of the International Telecommunication Union radio regulations, whilst minimizing the impact from interference.
275 – 325 GHz Allocations: This will include an opportunity for the amateur and amateur-satellite service. The IARU team worked effectively to minimize the amateur bands from future studies, which is a great result for amateur radio.
IARU is very pleased with the overall result of WRC-23. The IARU team has already started to discuss and consider how to engage and resource for the next cycle leading up to WRC-27.
IARU WRC Coordinator and Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, expressed his pleasure with the results and complimented the extraordinary effort of the dedicated team of IARU volunteers who worked long hours to achieve the results that will benefit all amateurs.
The IARU team includes ARRL Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA. WRC-23 ran from November 20 – December 15, 2023.