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WRC-15 Protects UHF Broadcasting

It looks like a majority of countries at the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva were not ready to follow the U.S. down the path of reclaiming UHF broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband.

Broadcasters were celebrating the decision by a majority of attendees at the WRC-15 on spectrum allocation conference last week not to give up lower-band spectrum to mobile broadband.

The conference agreed on allocating spectrum above 700 MHz (technically 694 to 790 MHz) in to mobile broadband in region 1, which includes Europe, Africa and the Middle East, but also adopted "full protections for UHF broadcasting."

"NAB was pleased by the global unity demonstrated at WRC-15 for the importance of a vibrant system of over-the-air broadcasting. Of the 162 nations attending the conference, more than 140 countries rejected the wireless broadband industry’s anti-broadcasting UHF spectrum grab and recognized that frequency band is harmonized to provide television services on a worldwide scale," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.

A story in Radio World, which is co-owned with B&C/Multichannel News, also cited a statement by the European Broadcasting Union praising the decision to preserve broadcast UHF spectrum.

"Representatives of over 150 governments took the decision that UHF spectrum will remain exclusively allocated to terrestrial TV services in ITU 'Region 1' well into the next decade," said EBU, pointing out that came after deliberations over whether lower frequencies should be retained by broadcasters or opened up to mobile broadband, as the U.S. is trying to do in the incentive auction.

"In their session today, representatives reached a consensus that this spectrum, currently used by broadcast services such as digital terrestrial TV [DTT] and radio microphones, is too important to be allocated to mobile services," EBU said.

"This broad consensus should send a strong message that while wireless broadband services are important for those who can afford the fees, that service should not come at the expense of a ubiquitous over-the air TV service that is available to all for free," Wharton said of the decision to protect UHF spectrum.

Region 1 comprises Europe, Africa, the Middle East (west of the Persian Gulf), Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Ukraine.