19th December 2023
The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) was held in Dubai from 20th November-15th December, 2023. The issue that could potentially affect our industry was Agenda item 1.5: to review the spectrum use and spectrum needs of existing services in the frequency band 470-960 MHz in Region 1 and consider possible regulatory actions in the frequency band 470‑694 MHz in Region 1 on the basis of the review in accordance with Resolution 235 (WRC‑15).
This is the frequency band used for wireles audio devices.
This does not affect Australia directly but the AMA has monitored it. Dr Jochen Zenthöfer from advocacy group Save Our Spectrum, based in Europe where this change would have taken effect, has been at the forefront of advocacy on this issue. He has shared the following update.
At the World Radiocommunications Conference 2023 (WRC-23), it was decided that broadcasting will remain the sole primary user in the frequency range between 470 and 694 MHz. The event industry (PMSE, Programme Making Special Events) will remain a secondary user in the TV UHF band with its wireless production equipment, as has been the case to date. The WRC decisions will not be reviewed until WRC-31. Read more
- PMSE includes wireless microphones used for culture, event productions & journalism, in-ear monitors for concerts, etc.
- PMSE already was a secondary user in this frequency band, and will remain so, with some changes.
- The WRC does not decide on specific uses. That will now be decided by the individual states. But the WRC decides on allocations, i.e. the framework within which uses are allowed.
- PMSE still has an allocation as a secondary user for the band between band between 470 and 694 MHz. Broadcasting remains the sole primary user. This means that the proven and existing system will be retained. However, the conference allowed other secondary users – in addition to PMSE – to enter the band. Whether and in what way this will happen will be clarified soon
- In Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Syrian Arab Republic, some changes are to be expected.
The Australian Government took a neutral position on this question going in to WRC-23, and the office of the Minister for Communications recently responded to the AMA’s recent correspondence, noting that “wireless audio devices are permitted to use usused frequencies in the 520-694 MHz range, the portion of the band which is used for terrestrial television broadcasting…The Government has not made any decisions that would alter the arrangements for the use of radiofrequency spectrum.” They added that the Government is looking at the future of spectrum planning for free to air television in Australia (and therefore, the spectrum available for wireless audio devices) and “the Government is committed to working closely with all relevant sectors, including the music products industry, as it progresses this work.”