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Communications266

Spectrum Management at the Outer Borderline of European Union [1]

Augutis sna, deputy director, Department of Radio Communication, Communications Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Lithuania

This paper focuses on spectrum management issues in the Member States located at the outer borders of European Union. Spectrum policies and related harmonization measures of European Union request the Member States for spectrum coordination with third countries. The problematic frequency bands for North-Eastern EU Member States are discussed in the paper and importance of negotiations with the neighbouring non-EU countries on bilateral or multilateral basis is shown as a key element in order to eliminate constrains for implementation of European Union harmonisation measures.


Radio waves are not bounded by national borders, the radio signal travels away from the intended coverage area, interfering to other systems likely operating in neighbouring country. This is why the administrations try to harmonise the usage of the spectrum as wide as possible. However, the boundaries of spectrum management areas remains and spectrum management at these borderlines of spectrum management areas have specific issues trying to satisfy not only needs of particular administration but coordinated needs of all spectrum management area.

The EU spectrum management area is bonded within outer EU borderline, so the issue of spectrum coordination at outer EU borders remains the key element regarding almost all the initiatives of the European Commission on spectrum: Wireless Access Policy for Electronic Communications Services (WAPECS), flexible use of spectrum, digital dividend, harmonization of the spectrum, etc.

Lithuania, whose near two thirds of the borderline is outer EU borderline, requires specific frequency coordination activities concerning implementation of the EU spectrum policies and related spectrum harmonisation measures which are rather cryptic for our colleagues from Western-Central Europe but are natural for EU Member States outer borders of the EU. Below the situation in Lithuania concerning usage of frequency bands considered as suitable for EU harmonization measures is presented.

Digital dividend
The switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV is going to free up some amount of spectrum in Europe. This spectrum is known as the digital dividend [1] and is the top point of EU strategy concerning spectrum management during next a few years. A critical factor for availability of the spectrum as a digital dividend is switch-off of analogue terrestrial TV transmission in UHF (470-862 MHz) frequency band. The switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV has already been completed in some geographical areas of the EU, the switchover process is expected to be well advanced by the beginning of 2010 and proposed deadline of the switchover in all EU Member States is the end of 2012 [2]. In accordance to Lithuanian legislation the analogue terrestrial TV will be switched off by the end of October 2012.
Digital dividend is the spectrum preferred by mobile technologies due to its technical characteristics excellent coverage due the good propagation of radio waves. In the EU the UHF spectrum is considered as suitable for WAPECS [3] and having been identified as relevant for mobile TV as well as for extending the reach of all types of wireless electronic communication services into rural areas. However, the usage of UHF spectrum for mobile technologies is constrained because of historical usage for the terrestrial broadcasting, various national policies regarding the digital dividend and by other services outside the EU.
The firs serious reservations are related to the need of claiming for protection of non-EU analogue TV stations as long as they switch them off by the year 2015 (in case of optimistic scenarios). So, the success in usage of digital dividends in the Member States located at the outer EU borders crucially depends on the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial TV in the EU neighbouring countries.
The second reservation is related to the non-broadcasting services operating in the countries outside EU. In accordance to footnote RR No.5.312, in some countries the band of 645-862 MHz is also allocated to the aeronautical radio navigation service on a primary basis. Particularly in Russian Federation the sub-band 790-862 MHz and in Belarus the sub-band 830-862 MHz is allocated to the Aeronautical Radio Navigation Service and is used with priority for governmental usage, national defence, security and maintenance of public order. The allocations of that type of usage have very high level of protection from potential interference regarding other services. The coordination distance for aeronautical systems in these bands is up to 340 km. It is clear that only low power narrow-band equipment, especially in the zone near the borderline, could be used under condition that is compatible with Aeronautical Radio Navigation Service. That is why Lithuania has got no allotments for implementing digital terrestrial TV in the upper UHF band (830-862 MHz).
Taking into account the constrains concerning usage of the upper UHF sub-band for broadcasting services, during the World Radio Conference 2007, Lithuanian delegation requested to add the name of Lithuania to the new footnote of ITU Radio Regulations (RR) No. 5.316A, in order to allow us to use sub-band 830-862 MHz for mobile service on a primary basis. Poland delegation had the same request concerning sub-band 790-862 MHz. The requests were succeeded finally, but the provision that frequency assignment to the mobile service under this allocation in Lithuania and Poland shall not be used without the agreement of the Russian Federation and Belarus was brought into the footnote as a compromise. This provision has conditioned the situation that the usage of upper UHF sub-band for mobile service in Lithuania and Poland depends on negotiations with countries outside the borders of the European Union. Our plans for further usage of the sub-band depend on the conditions that will be agreed with Russian Federation and Belarus. Consequently, the future usage of UHF band as digital dividend is constrained by the Aeronautical Radio Navigation Service of countries neighbouring to Eastern borderline of EU.

UMTS in the GSM 900 frequency band
The 890-915 MHz and 935-960 MHz bands are reserved for the public pan-European cellular digital land-based mobile communications in the Community [4] and the second generation cellular digital mobile communications (GSM) systems were established in all EU Member States. Now, when new generation of mobile communications expand worldwide, existing GSM operators want to enhance their current use of the 890-915 MHz and 935-960 MHz bands with possibility for the higher generation communications, where networks can be deployed at a lower cost than in the bands 1900-1980 MHz, 2010-2025 MHz or 2110-2170 MHz, currently used for 3rd generation mobile services.
The European Commission also insisted on a more flexible use of GSM spectrum and have proposed an amendment of the GSM Directive with regard to allow the usage of the bands 880-915 MHz and 925-960 MHz for GSM systems and for UMTS systems as well as for other terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services that can co-exist with GSM systems. UMTS system means an electronic communications network that complies with the UMTS standards EN 301 908-1, EN 301 908-2, EN 301 908-3 and EN 301 908-11.
By the technical point of view the UMTS systems as well as other terrestrial systems can be deployed in co-existence with GSM networks by using appropriate values for carrier separation and allowing the appropriate bandwidth of the channels. Consequently the possibility to insert UMTS channels in bands used by GSM in same countries claims re-planning of the assignments in order to allow the channels of 5 MHz and the re-planning should be done without creating interference with respect to protect the current usage of GSM bands in the non-EU countries, which are not going to deploy the 3rd generation mobile services in the GSM bands yet. Coexistence of UMTS services as well as other 3rd generation terrestrial services in the Member States with GSM services in non-EU countries is subject of bilateral and multilateral agreements of the countries concerned.

Multimedia Services in L-band
World Radio Conference 1992 allocated the L-band (1452-1492 MHz) globally for use by the Broadcasting Satellite Service for the purposes of digital sound broadcasting via satellite and envisaged the use of complementary terrestrial sound broadcasting. In the EU the L-band, especially the lower part of L-band (1452-1479.5 MHz), is indicated as suitable for WAPECS [3] and is considered at the EU level as suitable for the provision of mobile multimedia services including mobile TV.
The Band 1452-1479.5 MHz is sparsely used in most European countries. The future usage of the band for T-DAB in Eastern Europe countries is predicted by footnote No. 5.342 of ITU Radio Regulations. The Radio Regulations state that frequency band 1452-1492 MHz is allocated inter alia to the broadcasting service on a primary basis. In accordance with the additional allocation, stated in the footnote RR No. 5.342, in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, the band 1429-1535 MHz is also allocated to the aeronautical mobile service on a primary basis exclusively for the purposes of aeronautical telemetry within the national territory.
The use of the band 1452-1479.5 MHz for terrestrial mobile multimedia services is subject to the Maastricht, 2002, Special Arrangement, as revised in Constanta, 2007 (MA02revCO07). The MA02revCO07 has set down the basic characteristics of T-DAB allotments, which may be used for terrestrial mobile multimedia services, and has established sharing criteria of T-DAB service versus other services. In order to protect aeronautical mobile service at 1.5 GHz band, the maximum permissible T-DAB field strength in the other service coverage area shall be 15 dB(mV/m) for Russian aeronautical mobile (telemetry) service. Consequently, in order to protect Russian aeronautical stations, T-DAB station of 1 kW e.r.p. with antenna height of 150 m should not be located within the distance of 150 km from the borderline of the national territory. In case of broadcasting network, or using more powerful broadcasting station, the non-location distance becomes even longer. The evaluations were made using the propagation curves from Recommendation ITU-R P.1546 and the represented field-strength values exceeded the 50% of the locations and for 1% of the time for land path.
That is why in MA02revCO07 the coordination requests before the implementation of T-DAB allotments, with respect to the aeronautical telemetry service in the Russian Federation, have been established in MA02revCO07 for some countries of Eastern Europe. It should be noted that all L-band T-DAB allotments of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the most T-DAB allotments of Poland, Ukraine and Finland, and a few allotments of Denmark, Germany and Sweden should be coordinated with Russian Federation before the implementation.
The conditions of usage of 1452-1492 MHz band in Eastern CEPT countries were changed from the 1st April 2007, taking into account the statement of the ITU RR 5.342, that the 1st April 2007 is the break-day when not only T-DAB allotments must be coordinated with the aeronautical telemetry service, but the usage of aeronautical telemetry stations must be agreed with the administrations using T-DAB. However, until 1 April the Russian Federation has notified in the ITU the aeronautical mobile (telemetry) stations, which are located very closely to the North-Eastern EU borderline (see the Figure 1). The stations, notified with zone radius of 600 km, occupy continuous 1450.25-1492.8 MHz spectrum and most likely will be protected by constraining the usage of T-DAB and mobile multimedia services in North-Eastern Europe countries.

As it has been shown above, the shared co-channel usage of T-DAB and aeronautical mobile (telemetry) services under the conditions set down in MA02revCO07 for North-Eastern EU countries is hardly possible within the distance up to 150 km from national borderline. Noteworthy, MA02revCO07 T-DAB allotments in some Eastern European countries can be converted into one or more assignments just after coordination with the countries, mentioned in the ITU RR No. 5.342. Consequently, multimedia mobile services can be implemented in the 1452-1479.5 MHz band only after coordination with countries outside the borders of the European Union. The additional bilateral agreements for Eastern EU countries with the neighbouring countries mentioned in the ITU RR No. 5.342 concerning division of spectrum between radio services are needed. It is foreseen that this kind of coordination/agreement could be reached just on goodwill to administrations concerned, bearing in mind that countries or groups of countries may have equitable access to the radio frequencies.

Electronic Communications Services in the Band 2500-2690 MHz
The Member States supported a more flexible use, technological neutrality, and service neutrality in the band of 2500-2690 MHz and the relevant Decision 2008/477/EC was adopted at 13 June 2008 [5]. The aim of the Decision is to harmonise the conditions for the availability and efficient use of the 2500-2690 MHz band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the Community. The Member States shall designate and subsequently make available, on a non-exclusive basis, the 2500-2690 MHz band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services by the 25 December 2008.
In Lithuania, historically the 2500-2690 MHz frequency band is assigned for the provision of Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS). The deployment of the MMDS systems is limited to the five biggest Lithuanian cities. From 1 January 2009 this band is restructured and digital MMDS services are allowed only in the 2572 - 2620 MHz band (6 TV channels). The permission to provide MMDS services is valid until 1 January 2015. However, in order to ensure compatibility of MMDS systems with other terrestrial networks, an additional separation of 10 MHz is required. Therefore the 2560 2670 MHz and 2620 2630 MHz bands are designated as guard bands leaving the 2500 2560 and 2630 2690 MHz bands open for implementation of new electronic communications services. Lithuanian administration considers that current conditions under which the spectrum in the 2572-2620 MHz band is used comply with the requirements listed in the Decision 2008/477/EC, so the use of the MMDS system can be handled within the scope of the Decision. Our solution foresees enough a spectrum for two new operators to accommodate new terrestrial electronic communications systems in this frequency band and therefore we consider that spectrum requirements for such systems in accordance with the EC Decision 2008/477/EC can be satisfied.
It should be noted that your plans of further usage of the frequency band 2500-2690 MHz is compatible with plans of Belarus administration concerning the usage of the same band. As outcome the electronic communication systems in both part of borderline is compatible and in this case we are do not reckon any inconveniency in the scope of international coordination.

Mobile Electronic Communications in the Band 3400-3800 MHz
The band of 3400-3800 MHz is ideal for use of broadband connections to the customers premises, but it is of equal interest for the provision of mobile services within the EU so the band is identified for WAPECS [3] and has been considered as suitable for technological neutrality and service neutrality to achieve a more flexible use of spectrum. That is why the Commission Decision 2008/411/EC was adopted at 21 May 2008 [6]. The aim of the Decision is harmonisation the conditions for the availability and efficient use of the 3400-3800 MHz band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services. In accordance to the Decision the first target for Member States is to designate and make available, on a non-exclusive basis, the 3400-3600 MHz band for terrestrial fixed, nomadic and mobile electronic communications networks by 5 December 2008. The second target is to designate and subsequently make available the 3600-3800 MHz band for terrestrial fixed, nomadic and mobile electronic communications networks by 1 January 2012.
Historically the band 3400-3600 MHz was allocated to the fixed and fixed-satellite services on primary basis and to the mobile and radiolocation services on secondary basis. During the World Radio Conference 2007, the band 3400-3600 MHz was also allocated to the mobile, except aeronautical mobile, service on a primary basis and was identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) by footnote RR 5.430A. Herewith, the provision that before an administration brings into use a (base or mobile) station of the mobile service in this band, it shall ensure that the power flux-density (pfd) produced at 3 m above ground does not exceed −154.5 dB(W/(m2  4 kHz)) for more than 20% of time at the border of the territory of any other administration was brought into the footnote. In accordance to calculations[1], the agreed pfd value doesnt allow to bring into use a station of the mobile service with typical parameters of IMT station in the distance of about 100 km from the borderline of the territory of an administration, which is going to use this band for other services. Due to the fact that the band 3400-3800 MHz is intensively used for satellite communications within Russian Federation and Belarus these countries have not associated themselves with the respective footnote, consequently almost all the territory of Lithuania, part of the territory of Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Poland becomes a buffering zone to protect fixed-satellite service of Russian Federation and Belarus (see Figure 2).

The hope for the administrations intending to implement mobile IMT service in the band 3400-3600 MHz is only related to the reserve done in the same footnote RR 5.430A that This limit may be exceeded on the territory of any country whose administration has so agreed. In order to ensure that the pfd limit at the border of the territory of any other administration is met, the calculations and verification shall be made, taking into account all relevant information, with the mutual agreement of both administrations. That is why the possibility of reaching an agreement on bilateral/multilateral basis is more appropriate way to solve the problem.

Frequency Information System

The availability of information how frequencies are actually utilised within Europe and beyond is the first step in spectrum harmonisation. European administrations, industry, and European Commission, understanding how important is to have a database containing frequency utilisation information that is compatible across the Europe, encouraged CEPT European Radiocommunications Office (ERO) to develop Frequency Information System (EFIS) that would allow administrations, industry, and other interest parties to search for and compare spectrum utilisation information [7]. The national data available through a common information point about Spectrum Allocations and Spectrum Applications should be mandatory entered into EFIS. From the year 2008 all Member States of EU shall use the EFIS as a common access point, in order to make comparable information regarding the use of spectrum in each Member State available to the public via the Internet [8]. Member States shall provide to EFIS the information regarding the use of radio spectrum on their territory for each frequency band and for use of radio spectrum in general.

Thus the EFIS has become a really useful tool in order to search information about Service Allocations, Applications, Radio Interface Specifications, or Individual Rights of Use (mandatory from 1 Jan 2010) for the particular frequency band in the each Member State. Unfortunately, this tool is only partly serviceable for the Member States located at the outer borders taking into account that Belarus, Ukraine, and Russian Federation do not provide information related to Searchable Applications. Therefore, the most appropriate way to collect information how frequencies are actually utilised outside outer EU borders is to have personal contacts with the colleagues from the administrations concerned.

EU regulations
It is no wonder that EU implements independent radio spectrum policy that not always consists with the radio spectrum policies of neighbouring non-EU countries. In these cases all problems related to specific frequency coordination activities between EU and neighbouring third countries overlay Member States located at the outer borders of EU. From another hand all Member States has no choice to implement or not implement the EU spectrum policies and related harmonisation measures. Taking into account mentioned the representatives of the Member States met in Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) prepare and by the midyear of 2008 adopted the Opinion on Spectrum Issues Concerning Outer EU Borders [9]. The purpose of the opinion is to give an advice to the Commission on an EU-level assistance mechanism to support and assist individual Member States, or a sub-group of Member States, who need to coordinate spectrum issues with non-EU countries.
In the opinion is stressed that most the frequency coordination issues concerning outer EU borders are concentrated in UHF (especially the sub band 790-862 MHz), 1452-1479.5 MHz, 2500-2690 MHz and 3400-3800 MHz bands and recommended tackling the spectrum coordination issues by five geographical clusters. The most of frequency harmonization issues mentioned above in this article were consolidated in the RSPG opinion under North-Eastern European geographical cluster consolidating Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
In the opinion are some useful points that need to be mentioned talking about spectrum coordination issues related to implementing EU harmonization measures. It is very important that the principle of subsidiarity is kept in the recommendations. Affected Member State is responsible for spectrum coordination with non-EU neighbouring countries and should make all practicable efforts to reach an agreement with the non-EU countries on a bilateral or multilateral basis and only after that should request the assistance of the European Commission in case of insurmountable difficulties.
RSPG, recognising that the prime objective of EC spectrum harmonisation Decisions is to ensure and maintain coherence in the internal market, agrees that in the case of insurmountable spectrum coordination difficulties with non-EU neighbouring countries, certain geographical areas of the EU may be unable to implement EC harmonization Decisions. In such cases affected EU Member States are allowed to make a different use of the particular frequency bands or sub-bands, in order to avoid sterilisation of the spectrum. If the difficulties with third countries can be identified before or appear after a Decision has been put in place Member States should aim to anticipate the need for derogation provisions can be included in harmonisation measures or call upon the Commission for an amendment of the corresponding Decision to add a derogation provision.
The main result of RSPG opinion is acknowledgement of the exceptional situation for outer borderline Member States in the EU spectrum harmonisation process and an importance of bilateral and regional dialogs with non-EU neighbouring countries during implementation of spectrum harmonization measures is highlighted.

Conclusions
The EU spectrum management area is bonded within outer EU borderline, so the issue of spectrum coordination at outer EU borders overlay Member States located at the outer borders of EU. That could be said about almost all the initiatives of the European Commission on spectrum harmonisation. For the time being the substantial issues concerning frequency harmonization are concentrated in UHF (especially the sub band 790-862 MHz), GSM (890-915 MHz, 935-960 MHz), 1452-1479.5 MHz, 2500-2690 MHz and 3400-3800 MHz bands, which are very interesting for implementation of new technologies of electronic communications in Europe and beyond, therefore requested specific coordination activities with the neighbouring non-EU countries.
The coordination difficulties arise mainly from the fact that the Tables of Frequency Allocations and the frequency utilisation plans in Member States differ from the non-EU neighbouring countries. Some of difficulties have arisen as a result of serious constrains posed by Radio Regulations.
Member States and European Commission assay to create assistance mechanisms to support an individual Member States or a group of Member States, who need to coordinate spectrum issues with non-EU countries when implementing harmonisation measure adopted at EU level. The subsidiarity is kept as a key principle in EU spectrum coordination: the affected Member State should make all practicable efforts to reach an agreement with the non-EU neighbouring countries on a bilateral or multilateral basis.

References

1. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Reaping the full benefits of the digital dividend in Europe: A common approach to the use of the spectrum released by the digital switchover, COM (2007) 700 final.

2. Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Accelerating the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting, COM(2005) 204 final.
3. Radio Spectrum Policy Group Opinion on Wireless Access Policy for Electronic Communications Services (WAPECS), RSPG05-102 final.

4. Council Directive 87/372/EEC of 25 June 1987 on the frequency bands to be reserved for the coordinated introduction of public pan-European cellular digital land-based mobile communications in the Community.

5. Commission Decision of 13 June 2008 on the harmonisation of the 2500-2690 MHz frequency band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the Community (2008/477/EC) Official Journal L 163, 24/06/2008 P.0037 0041.

6. Commission Decision of 21 May 2008 on the harmonisation of the 3400-3800 MHz frequency band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the Community (2008/411/EC) Official Journal L 144, 04/06/2008 P.0077 0081.

7. ECC Decision of 15 November 2001 on ERO Frequency Information System (EFIS) (ECC/DEC/(01)03).

8. Commission Decision of 16 May 2007 on harmonised availability of information regarding spectrum use within the Community (2007/344/EC) Official Journal L 129, 17/05/2007 P.0067 0070.

9. Radio Spectrum Policy Group Opinion on Spectrum Issues Concerning Outer EU Borders, RSPG08-232 final.



[1] The calculations were made in accordance to Recommendation ITU-R P.452 for WiMAX station with  18 dBW EIRP and antenna height of 50 m.

 


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