Post-WRC-15, mobile and satellite still at odds over spectrum

02 Jun 2016

Almost seven months after the conclusion of WRC-15, the mobile and satellite sectors haven’t fully reconciled their differences over spectrum allocations, despite having a shared interest in terrestrial evolution to 5G.

At a spectrum panel during the broadband track at CommunicAsia2016 Wednesday, Guillaume Mascot, Director of Government Relations for APJ (Asia-Pacific, Japan) and India at Nokia, said that the outcome of WRC-15 was generally good news for mobile broadband.

“When you look at things like connected cars, connected homes, 5G - this is the future where we’re headed. We need to connect everyone and everything with the best possible connection,” he said. “We need to move forward to ensure the best outcome for users.”

He added that it was important for mobile to work with the satellite sector to develop a complementary approach, particularly on the contentious topic of extended C-band.

GapSat CEO Gregg Daffner agreed that the mobile and satellite sectors need to work together to make 5G a reality, and said that satellite wants to be a part of that ecosystem. However, he pointed out that of the two sectors, only one has had to sacrifice spectrum it already possessed towards that end.

“We’re the ox being gored in the process of reallocation,” he said.

On the long-contentious topic of extended C-band, Daffner reiterated that coexistence between terrestrial and satellite is simply not possible. However, he added that the satellite industry will stick to its agreement at WRC-15 not to revisit the matter.

Daffner did revive the satellite industry’s criticism of the mobile sector for not using all of the terrestrial spectrum it’s already been allocated. “Their claims for needing additional spectrum has been overstated for years, and we’re skeptical of the numbers.”

He also criticized the US FCC for proposing to allocate parts of the 28-GHz band for IMT purposes, which conflicts with Ka-band applications, despite an agreement at WRC-15 that the band would be excluded from consideration for IMT.

Consequently, the satellite sector is now making moves to lobby regulators and standards bodies and make clear that satellite is very much a part of the 5G ecosystem.

Outside the panel, Ethan Lavan, director of the In-Orbit Resources division at Eutelsat, urged the satellite industry to engage with various industry forums working on 5G standards, particularly in the areas of equipment specifications and band plans.

“We are at the point of no return,” Lavan said. “Equipment specifications for IMT 5G are being defined now. Unless we have some attractive and workable equipment specifications and means for the equipment manufacturers to use bands other than 28 GHz, there will be no going back.”

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