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UN Allocates Bandwidth For Global Satellite Flight Tracking System

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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WRC-15 paves the way fopr satellite flight tracking system following MH370 disappearance

The UN-affiliated International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has allocated spectrum for a new global flight tracking system following the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 last year.

Delegates at World Radiocommunications Conference 2015 (WRC-15) have made the 1087.7-1092.3 MHz band available so aircraft can transmit signals to satellites comprising the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system.

At present, the frequencies are used to transmit signals to terrestrial stations within line-of-sight, but the ability to reach satellites means reporting of aircraft can be achieved in remote areas such as oceans and polar environments.

Flight tracking spectrum

BA British Airways plane aeroplance © Steve Mann / Shutterstock.comThe fate of MH370 is still unknown, and its disappearance led to a debate about the need for better flight tracking should such an event occur in the future.

“In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, ITU has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on the major issue concerning global flight tracking,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU will continue to make every effort to improve flight tracking for civil aviation.”

WRC-15 will continue until the end of the month, with each country having a say on how the world’s spectrum resources are allocated on a global level. The mobile industry is particularly keen to get its hands on as much bandwidth as possible, claiming that without additional spectrum, it will be impossible to keep up with demand.

Greater harmonisation of spectrum will not only provide additional capacity, but also allow for economies of scale in manufacturing but also allow services to work across national borders. Satellite operators and broadcasters are also keen to protect their interests and it is likely compromises will be made during the course of the conference. The UK will be represented by regulator Ofcom.

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