WRC-15: Amateur Bands Unsuitable for Non-Amateur Satellites

Logo WRC RA 2015The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) held in Geneva during November 2015 has recommended an agenda for the next WRC, to be held in 2019, to the Council of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). One of the agenda items is of particular interest to the small-satellite community.

Agenda item 1.7 for WRC-19 reads: “to study the spectrum needs for telemetry, tracking and command in the space operation service for non-GSO satellites with short duration missions, to assess the suitability of existing allocations to the space operation service and, if necessary, to consider new allocations, in accordance with Resolution COM6/19 (WRC-15).”

Resolution COM6/19, which eventually will be given a new number, specifies the frequency ranges that may be considered for possible new allocations. They are 150.05-174 MHz and 400.15-420 MHz.

One of the factors that the conference considered in deciding on these particular frequency ranges was “that some non-amateur satellites have used frequencies for telemetry, tracking and command in the frequency bands 144-146 MHz and 435-438 MHz which are allocated to the amateur-satellite service, and that such use is not in accordance with Nos. 1.56 and 1.57.” Those two provisions of the ITU Radio Regulations define the amateur and amateur-satellite services respectively.

The International Amateur Radio Union welcomed the exclusion from consideration of all existing frequency allocations to the amateur and amateur-satellite services. IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, observed: “This is an excellent result for the amateur services and clearly shows that non-amateur satellite constructors need to consider spectrum other than the very limited and congested segments that are available for amateur satellites at 144 MHz and 435 MHz.”

Dave Sumner K1ZZ
International Amateur Radio Union