WMO Welcomes Outcome of World Radiocommunication Conference 2012

Radio frequencies which are vital for weather forecasts, disaster warnings and climate monitoring will remain available to the meteorological community and protected from interference from other applications thanks to decisions taken by the World Radiocommunication Conference 2012 (WRC-12). The World Meteorological Organization today welcomed the outcome of WRC-12 and said it would safeguard the use of radio frequency spectrum which are needed to observe and understand our Earth, atmosphere and oceans and to reduce the risk of weather, climate and water-related disasters. WRC-12 reinforced the commitment of previous World Radiocommunication Conferences to the special needs of meteorological and hydrological services, despite competing pressure for scarce radio frequencies from wireless technology and other uses.

"New applications for radio waves are being continuously developed, which means that more and more has to be squeezed into the available radio spectrum,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The WRC-12 decisions will help ensure that the signals we need to observe the earth are not drowned by new signals," said Mr. Jarraud. “The outcome of WRC-12 will provide new opportunities for observation systems needed to monitor, understand and predict our changing climate, and will provide the necessary protection to meteorological applications,” he said. In particular, WRC-12 agreed to an update to Resolution 673 of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 on Radiocommunications use for Earth observation applications and modified its name and content. The new version of Resolution 673 (Rev.WRC-12) is called “The importance of Earth observation radiocommunication applications.” It resolves:

to continue to recognize that the use of spectrum by Earth observation applications has a considerable societal and economic value;
to urge administrations to take into account Earth observation radio-frequency requirements and in particular protection of the Earth observation systems in the related frequency bands;
to encourage administrations to consider the importance of the use and availability of spectrum for Earth observation applications prior to taking decisions that would negatively impact the operation of these applications.

In a submission to the conference, WMO had warned that if some of the frequency bands allocated for meteorological purposes were to be used byother incompatible applications, then these bands could be rendered unusable for weather, climate, water and/or disaster observation and monitoring systems. This would make corresponding forecasts and services extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. Given that weather, climate and water-related disasters represent more than 90% of natural disasters, radio frequencies are essential components of multi-hazard early warning systems. WMO’s Steering Group on Radio Frequency Coordination was active in ensuring that WRC-12 participants understood the potential impact decisions at the conference could have on earth observations systems maintained by WMO Members. The World Meteorological Congress in June 2011 allocated additional funding to support WMO’s radio frequency coordination activities in view of their fundamental importance. World Radiocommunication Conferences are held every four years under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union to review and revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of radio frequency spectrum.

Specific outcomes:

WRC-12 agenda items identified by WMO as important for development and protection of meteorological applications prior to WRC-12 were successfully addressed by the Conference as follows.

After considering the worldwide regional harmonization of spectrum for electronic news gathering, the meeting agreed to no change to the Radio Regulations. This avoids increasing interference level to meteorological applications due to introduction of electronic news gathering tuning ranges.

WRC-12 updated the Radio Regulations to include reference to the passive bands within the 275-3000 GHz range to ensure those bands used in WMO activities are taken into consideration in the processes for use of these frequencies in free space optical links.

In considering technical and regulatory issues relating to the fixed service in the bands between 71 and 238 GHz, WRC-12 decided to include recommended limits for active services sharing or using adjacent bands to passive services.

WRC-12 considered the need for allocating frequency ranges for the use of oceanographic radars in sets of bands that will allow this technology to be used in a uniform way. It was agreed to make these allocations, including through a resolution ensuring oceanographic radars do not interfere with fixed and mobile services. Although these allocations are not “primary”, WMO believes this compromise solution will help the further development and use of oceanographic radars.

WRC-12 agreed to the allocation of frequencies at 8.3 and 11.3 kHz to meteorological aids for the use in lightening detection systems

WRC-12 recognized that no changes were needed to the Radio Regulation to support Software Defined Radio (SDR) or Cognitive Radio Systems (CRS). It was noted that CRS were incompatible with passive radio frequencies and noted in the WRC-12 report that this should be taken into account for studies in the use of CRS.

WRC-12 looked at additional allocations to high altitude platform stations (HAPS) in the frequency range 5 850 - 7 075 MHz. Rather than a general allocation, a footnote was added to the Radio Regulations noting their use in Australia and a few African countries. The aim is to reduce the risk of interference with Earth Exploration Satellite Service activities.

WRC-12 looked at the effects of emissions from short range devices (SRD) and agreed no change was needed to radio regulations.

WRC-12 agreed to an extension of the allocation to meteorological satellite service in the band 7 750 - 7 850 MHz to the band 7 850-7 900 MHz.

Conference reviewed the need for allocations to the mobile-satellite service between 4 and 16 GHz and agreed to no change in the Radio Regulations.

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