|Issue:||Latin America III 1997|
|Topic:||Personal Communications Services:Overview of a Regional Approach|
|Author:||Roberto Blois Montes de Souza|
CITEL’s technical priority is in the harmonization of spectrum use in the 2 GHz band, particularly for PCS; to promote the integration of services and networks to ensure interconnectivity and compatibility. However, technical issues are not the only critical elements for the deployment and eventual success of wireless technologies. Government policies and the regulatory environment are also fundamental to its success, and this is where CITEL provides the coordination and recommendation of rules and guidelines.
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), is an entity of the Organization of American States (OAS). CITEL’s field of action and decision is telecommunications. Its membership consists of every country member of the OAS and associate members from the private sector. Working under close coordination with other international organisations, CITEL has become a forum where governments and the private sector meet. Unsatisfied Demand Technological advances have made it possible to change the concept of wireless technologies as a premium service only available to high-end users, to a highly competitive service targeting a wide range of potential customers. For many developing countries these new technologies may be the means to close the telecommunications gap that exists between themselves and the developing world. The deployment of wireless technologies in the Americas region is driven by unsatisfied demand for telephone service, and new legislations fostering local access provision to benefit telecommunications access as a way to improve sustainable economic power. Although it may bring many benefits, there are also difficult issues that need to be addressed and resolved in order to introduce a useful service. Some of these issues are how to finance the new services, determining which standards to use, frequency allocations and channel capacity, deciding which regulations are needed, training human resources to maintain and operate these services, and how to promote integration of services and networks. Benefits of PCS are most often associated with voice applications. Perhaps its most significant potential will be the utilization of its broadband, digital, high speed qualities to transmit massive amounts of data and information. Other characteristics that PCS offers are mobility (terminal, personal and service), a digital interface, increased sensitivity which means lower power that will result in longer battery life and increased talk time, good voice quality, small handsets, a unique number for each subscriber, and service at an affordable cost. Technical Priority PCS has been identified as a technical priority by CITEL. In one area, CITEL has already recommended what it considers the best frequency bands for an efficient use of PCS, and it is now considering the technical aspects and the regulatory issues that may arise. However, allocating spectrum for PCS may be a challenge to us all, as in certain cases the regional harmonization may require reassignment of existing services. Taking this into account, principles or guidelines were studied and recommended to the CITEL countries for the coordination and/or reassignment of Fixed Services in the band 1850-1990 MHz in order to accommodate PCS. The main items of these guidelines could be summarized as: promoting cooperation between affected parties; establishing definitive interference criteria to identify potentially affected fixed service stations; reassigning fixed station frequencies only if potential interference to or from a PCS station is likely to occur and, in this case, establish a definitive time frame for the reassignment; and curtail the assignment of more fixed services in the PCS bands in areas where PCS will be deployed. CITEL member countries also worked and recommended sub-bands for use where the 1850-1990 MHz band was allocated for PCS. The efficient use of the spectrum is a priority in CITEL, and so in 1996 a Working Group was established for the quantification of incompatibilities between PCS and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in the range 1850-1990 MHz. This Working Group has already held two meetings and is considering in detail the possible systems. In addition, CITEL issued the first version of a coordinated standards document for the 2 GHz PCS (1850-1990 MHz) where standards for the service providers were recommended. At that time (1995), the areas of concern to countries were the coordination of air interfaces, promotion of the use of shared frequency bands and compatibility of spectrum use, and the promotion of standards to allow the interconnectivity of radiocommunications systems/services. CITEL is also working in the area of facilitating international roaming and interoperability of networks in the provision of PCS across the Americas with ideas such as roaming agreements, cross-border licensing and/or hand over arrangements. Narrowband PCS represent an opportunity for two way Messaging services. In order to attain service throughout the region, the frequency bands 901-902 MHz, 930-931 MHz and 940-941 MHz have been recommended for implementation of this service. Satellite-Based PCS In addition, to facilitate national and regional roaming, it was decided to establish a uniform channel and sub-band relationship. Satellite-based PCS provides for the first time a communications system that can go “anywhere” and as a result it is one of the potential tools for the Global Information Infrastructure. There are now several system approaches that differ in their orbit selection and are identified as Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) systems. Satellite-delivered PCS is ideal due to its global reach, but there are many regulatory and technical issues to overcome. These systems offer possibilities to provide cost-effective PCS to areas that cannot be economically covered by conventional PCS or cellular cells. Integration of Technologies CITEL is studying strategies for the evolution towards FPLMTS (Future Public Land Mobile Telecommunications System), or as it is now known, IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications 2000), and is evaluating candidate radio transmission technologies for this purpose. These systems aim towards the integration of all mobile radio applications (cordless, cellular and paging systems, including mobile satellite systems), and will support voice, video and multimedia, and will provide compatibility of services within IMT-2000 and with the fixed network. The 1992 ITU World Administrative Radio Conference'(WARC 92) approved a world-wide allocation for mobile services in the 1.7 to 2.69 GHz band (1885-2025 MHz and 2110-2200 MHz). Resolution 212 of WARC-92 stated that, “the CCIR has recommended the 1-3 GHz band as the most suitable for FPLMTS”. It also stated that “the implementation of the satellite component of FPLMTS/IMT-2000 in the bands 1980,2010 MHz and 2170-2200 MHz is expected to be necessary by the year 2010”. This WARC-92 resolution was the beginning of the development of the global compatible PCS network known as the FPLMTS/IMT-2000. However, for IMT-2000 to be fully implemented, nations must provide an appropriate regulatory environment for the implementation of the LEO systems. The World Radio Conference of 1995 (WRC-95) stated that “the availability of the satellite component of the IMT-2000 in the band 1980-2010 MHz and 2170-2200 MHz simultaneously with the terrestrial component of the FPLMTS bands would improve the overall implementation and the attractiveness of FPLMTS to both developed and developing countries”. However, the availability of the frequency bands is still questionable, and it is in CITEL where coordination is accomplished for planning and implementation among the countries of the Americas. For the Americas, the WRC-95 also moved forward the date for the implementation of the 2 GHz band (1980-2010/2170-2200 MHz) for Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) from the year 2005 to January 1, 2000. The date adopted for the use of the extended band for MSS at 2010-2025 MHz/2160-2170 MHz was set for the year 2005. Feeder link bands at 5 and 7 GHz were provided for with sufficient bandwidth and power limits. There was also a request for completion of all necessary studies and arrangements for use of the FSS band at 13.75-14.00 GHz. CITEL has two Working Groups that currently handle the subject of mobile satellite systems below and above 1 GHz. In particular, in relation to the use of the 2 GHz band, CITEL is now gathering information on the use of the 2 GHz band to define the economic implications generated by the reallocation of existing users. In coordination with the Americas regional office of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), it is also preparing a database on the spectrum usage in the region. The information will be available for member countries online. This type of information is a very useful tool for coordination and every country is interested in it. From the information compiled, the Working Group that is dealing with MSS above 2 GHz is considering the possibility of defining a Migration Plan for the existing Systems in the bands 1980-2025/2160-2200 MHz. Key Factors for Success Technical issues are not the only critical elements for the deployment and eventual success of wireless technologies. Government policies and the regulatory environment are also fundamental to having successful wireless systems in a country. Countries must consider and define key elements such as: who will be the service providers (foreign or national capital), level of competition to be introduced, bandwidth of spectrum allocated to wireless operators, interconnection fees, how to grant licences and establish fees, how to tariff the service, and how to ensure interconnectivity and compatibility. To take advantage of the potential benefits of the MSS systems, nations should develop a flexible regulatory policy to permit usage that is adaptable to dynamic changes in communication needs and promotes rapid advancement of telecommunications technology. In addition, CITEL member countries are presently studying policy and regulatory elements identified in the report of the World Policy Forum held in Geneva, October 20-23, 1996, for regulating Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) in the national environment of each country. Conclusions From the coordinated implementation of these PCS services in the region, there will be many beneficiaries, mainly the individual and corporate users gaining improved access to telecommunication services, and the countries in the form of improved and expanded telecommunication infrastructures. Harmonization of spectrum use in the 2 GHz band (1850-1990 MHz) in CITEL countries will have the potential to obtain the benefits of economy of scale, compatible equipment within a standard, and interoperability between systems. In particular the interconnection rules are critical for a successful introduction of competition in the market, and these rules must not only take into account the technical requirements but also give regulatory guidelines.