Countries agree on new mobile spectrum at radio conference
The International Telecommunication Union said Friday its World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-12) has agreed a treaty aimed at revising the radio frequency spectrum to speed up mobile services.
The increased spectrum will allow easier and cheaper global broadband expansion and will replace the current third generation or 3G technology for more than one billion mobile telephone users, said the ITU.
The European Broadcasting Union expressed concerns about the new arrangements leading to the opening up of more spectrum but a global group representing mobile phone operators and and the United States welcomed them.
"We believe WRC-12 has been very successful," Decker Anstrom, the head of the US delegation to the conference, said in a telepress conference on Thursday just before the four-week meeting ended.
"US objectives were largely realised."
But the EBU, representing 85 public broadcasters in 56 countries, warned that its own new approach to spectrum management was at risk from the WRC-12 decision.
"We think this could cause considerable disruption and loss of services for millions of viewers," EBU communications manager Michelle Roverelli told AFP.
Due to pressure from African and Arab regional administrations, delegates to WRC-12 decided to look at allocating the 700MHz band (694-790 MHz) to mobile services, the EBU said.
"This decision could cause considerable problems in Europe, where the 700MHz band is heavily used for terrestrial broadcasting with, in many cases, long-term licensing arrangements in place," said Roverelli.
Terrestrial services do not use satellite transmission or cables, normally using radio waves.
ITU General Secretary Hamadoun Toure said, "WRC-12 has helped to define new and better ways to regulate radio services and applications."
"It represents a major contribution in making the world a better place for all," he said as the conference attended by 165 of the ITU member countries was ending.
WRC-12 chairman Tariq al-Awadhi described the negotiations as "sometimes difficult", but added, "we have arrived at consensus that will shape the way we communicate in the future."
After the members of the ITU, which represents 193 countries, signed the treaty on Friday, officials said the new broadband spectrum could come on stream in 2015 after approval at WRC-15.
Francois Rancy, director of the ITU's radiocommunication bureau, said the treaty "is good for consumers and it is good for operators," because increased spectrum costs are cheaper.
The GSMA, representing global mobile operators, said on its website the governments at the WRC-12 "have recognised the critical role that spectrum plays in bringing the enabling power of mobile broadband to citizens globally."
"Many countries have recognised the need to secure the future of mobile broadband and along with our members we stand committed to the success of the ITU's work," said Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA.
"By taking action now to secure more spectrum, mobile operators will be better positioned to meet the mobile data needs of billions of consumers well into the future.
International spectrum allocations are made only through WRC meetings and treaty negotiations take place every three to four years.
(c) 2012 AFP