CRAF, representing the European Radio Astronomy observatories, participated in the Working Party 7D meeting organized by the ITU Radiocommunication Sector and held virtually from 12 to 16 April. WP7D covers the radio astronomy service studies at ITU. Its scope includes radio astronomy and radar astronomy sensors, both Earth-based and space-based, including space very long baseline interferometry (VLBI).
The meeting discussed the progress made on the various agenda items of the next World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC23) related to the radio astronomy service. CRAF contributions focused on the agenda items of mobile services, UHF review in region 1, and the protection of receive-only space weather sensors. CRAF also continued coordination during the meeting on the new questions for the recognition of the VLBI global Observing System (VGOS) services by ITU.
The UHF band 608–614 MHz has been always of considerable importance to radio astronomy as it bridges the large gap between the 410 MHz and 1 400 MHz Radio Astronomy Service (RAS) spectrum allocations. The band is currently used under a secondary allocation in the European part of ITU-R region 1. Whereas in the African Broadcasting Area of Region 1 (roughly most of Africa and parts of the Middle East), the band 606-614 MHz is used under a primary allocationfor RAS according to footnote 5.304.
CRAF participated in the second online meeting of Project Team D (PTD) of the WRC-23 CEPT Conference Preparatory Group (CPG) during the second week of February 2021. Project Team D is addressing WRC-23 agenda item 1.5, where the UHF band in region 1 is under review. In its input contribution to the meeting, CRAF proposed a harmonized position for CEPT for an upgrade to the RAS band 608 – 614 MHz to a primary status in region 1. Nevertheless, the meeting decided to defer considering the upgrade until more compatibility studies for RAS and other services operating in the UHF band become available. CRAF plans to continue the discussions on the agenda item during the upcoming ITU-R working party 7D web-meeting planned on the period from 12th – 16th April 2021.
The 66th CRAF meeting was held virtually over two days on Nov 30th – Dec 1st 2020. The meeting discussed the growing challenges facing the Radio Astronomy Service (RAS) at both the regional and international levels. On top of these challenges are the satellite mega-constellations, the 5G services, the sharing of passive bands with active services, in addition to the WRC23 agenda. A number of actions were agreed to be carried out during the next year to address the various issues.
As part of CRAF’s global coordination strategy, the meeting was attended by external representatives from the Committee on Radio Frequencies in USA (CORF), the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the ITU-R Working Party 7D Chair.