Next steps on the road to WRC-19

IARU volunteers have been working for three years to progress Agenda Item 1.1 for the World Radio Conference 2019. This agenda item seeks a Region 1 allocation at around 50 MHz for the amateur service in the Radio Regulations Table of Frequency Allocations, to align with the allocations in Regions 2 and 3.

Extensive work has been undertaken in the African Telecommunications Union, CEPT, Arab Spectrum Management Group, RCC and of course ITU to gain support for such an allocation rather than the current country-by-country allocations under Article 4.4 of the Regulations. IARU has represented the global voice of amateur radio in these meetings arguing that new applications in amateur radio require significant bandwidth at 50 MHz and has set out a proposed utilisation of the band which supports its claim. IARU has also engaged in extensive work on sharing studies using propagation models recognised by ITU and CEPT

After many weeks of planning and meetings in both regional and global forums post the WRC in 2015, the next step on the route to WRC19 took place last week, where CEPT project team PTD considered its position on this agenda item in preparation for the CEPT Conference Preparatory Group meeting in November and the ITU CPM in February 2019.

The work during this meeting was enhanced by the presence of EURAO which cooperated with IARU to seek the best possible outcome for the amateur service on this WRC-19 agenda item.

The Amateur Service has met strong opposition from a few nation states who argue that the 50 MHz band is already allocated to other services in their countries (following the closure of many  broadcasting stations in recent years which operated in this band) and believe that sharing the band presents problems

At this meeting two options were prepared the first preferred by the majority of CEPT administrations actively participating in discussions and proposes a 2 MHz secondary allocation for inclusion in Article 5 of the ITU Radio Regulations. The second option, which is the result of a major compromise brokered by the amateur movement following the last PTD meeting and is preferred by EURAO and IARU, would see a 500 kHz primary allocation from 50.0 – 50.5 MHz and a secondary allocation from 50.5 – 52.0 MHz. Either option would improve the current 50 MHz international mechanisms which permit amateur operation on a non-interference, non-protected basis. These options will be further considered at the next PTD meeting.

It is hoped that the co-operation between IARU and EURAO will continue in future CEPT activities, which are relevant to amateur radio.