Satellite, mobile industries gear up for spectrum fight

Staff writer
17 Jun 2014

Satellite industry groups are renewing their push to protect the extended C-band ahead of the next World Radio Conference in 2015, arguing that coexistence between mobile broadband and FSS in the band is impossible, and that too many countries rely on it for critical services.

At WRC15, the mobile sector will lobby for more IMT spectrum, relying on a study from ITU-R WP5D, which projects IMT will need between 1340 MHz and 1960 MHz of spectrum by 2020 to satisfy demand for mobile data services.

But Ethan Lavan, director of orbital resources at Eutelsat and chairman of SIG (Satellite Informal Group), says that the WP5D’s model is based on unrealistic assumptions. “The benchmarking for things like population density, traffic density and the number of people in moving vehicles is unrealistic by a factor of 100,” he said.

Lavan added that the report ignores the fact that extended C-band is used for “critical, irreplaceable services” that can’t be moved because they benefit from C-band’s wide beams and resistance to rain attenuation.

A study released by Euroconsult on Monday found that extended C-band – valued at $800 million annually – is used across Asia not just for television distribution, but also the banking and finance, energy production, and government sectors for applications ranging from air traffic control and emergency services to connecting ATMs.

Veena Rawat, senior spectrum advisor for the GSM Association, responded that the industry association only wants the WRC to “make enabling provisions for the band, so that countries that want to use it for mobile broadband can do so, and in cases where satellite is using it, we can have a process of bilateral coordination to resolve interference issues.”

But satellite players argue that such resolution is impossible. “We discussed this seven years ago at WRC07,” said Ali Ebadi, SVP of space systems development at Measat. “Coexistence is impossible. We need protection of the existing band, and there are plenty of other frequencies the GSMA can use.”

Rawat argued that the technology has evolved since 2007 and technologies such as small cells allow coexistence under certain conditions.

But Gregg Daffner, CEO of GapSat and chairman of the CASBAA Wireless Action Group, said small cells don’t remove the problem of interference so much as simply make the magnitude of the problem smaller, because C-band downlink signals are still comparatively weaker than mobile broadband signals.

“We’re on the bad end of that stick, and we lose every time,” Daffner said.

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