The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations special agency for information and communication technologies responsible for the worldwide management of the radio-frequency spectrum and “development of technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect”. The ITU convenes every 4 to 5 years in a World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) to make decisions resulting in treaties regulating global standards.
Of importance to our user community throughout the world is Resolution 612: Use of the radiolocation service between 3 and 50 Mhz to support (high-frequency) oceanographic radar operations.
Resolution 612 Outcome
The outcome of this resolution is that for the first time "oceanographic radars" are officially recognized by ITU, with their own primary, provisional primary, and secondary bands.
Benefits to HF Users
Once in effect, this resolution will benefit the oceanographic HF community, as it is expected that:
• the licensing process (approvals for radio transmission) by government agencies will proceed smoother and will be concluded faster;
• users will be able to plan with certainty at which frequency their network can operate.
Complete ITU 2012 WRC Agenda and References document can be viewed at:
CODAR will produce, sell, and support SeaSondes that operate in all of the ITU allocated bands and conform to any local regulations.
What Existing HF Users Need to Do Now
No immediate action is necessary by any HF radar operator until the service rules and licensing regulations are developed and promulgated.
Developing Service Rules & Licensing Regulations
While the ITU sets global standards, each Region and country within will set specific service rules and licensing regulations, so there will be some variations among countries. In the United States (which is part of Region 2), development is the responsibility of NTIA and FCC. We expect this to be a lengthy process, spanning months, with some aspects taking even two years to complete. Similar timelines might apply to rules and licensing regulation development for other regions and countries.
What Will Happen to Existing Experimental Licenses (that presently operate under WRC Section 4.4)
Already approved operations as "experimental" licenses in other bands (outside of the new WRC-allocated bands listed below) will not automatically go away. Individual country authorities will need to determine how and when this might happen, if it happens at all. Presumably once the implementation of the WRC decision is complete, at least some oceanographic radars will need to begin transitioning to the new allocated bands, operating under the new service rules, when their experimental licenses reach expiry date and require new or renewal licensing. Use of the new bands should not begin until the service rules are in place and a new license has been issued to an oceanographic radar operator. In most cases, transitioning SeaSondes to the nearest allocated band should not require major hardware modification.