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WRC-19: New milestones agreed for non-geostationary satellite deployment

Agreement has been reached on a new milestone-based approach for the deployment of non-geostationary satellite (NGSO) systems1. The agreement establishes regulatory procedures for NGSOs and low-Earth orbit mega-constellations2.

In its announcement of the agreement, the ITU said that the milestone-based approach would provide a regulatory mechanism which will help ensure that the Master International Frequency Register (an ITU database of all registered frequency assignments) is kept up to date with the latest deployment information relating to NGSOs in specific frequency bands. The ITU also noted that the new approach seeks to strike a balance which will prevent radio-frequency spectrum warehousing3, and enable coordination mechanisms to work properly.

The advent of launch vehicles which are capable of supporting multiple satellite launches has seen mega-constellations increase in popularity for global telecommunications uses. Such constellations can provide low-latency broadband coverage, and has research applications such as meteorology, space and upper atmosphere, astronomy and much more. Learn more: ITU announcement


Grace Koh and Patricia CooperAt the IIC’s 50th Annual Conference in London on 9-10 October 2019, the question of whether it was time for a re-think on spectrum management was posed in one session.

Chaired by Ofcom’s Director of International Spectrum Policy, Chris Woolford, the session included Ambassador Grace Koh, US Representative to the International Telecommunication Union World Radio Conference (ITU WRC-2019) and Head of Delegation, and Patricia Cooper, Vice President, Satellite Government Affairs for SpaceX.

The issue of spectrum lying fallow was addressed – with some legitimate circumstances for warehousing, such as military requirements for emergency use being noted – and the increasing possibility of spectrum-sharing suggested as a means to ensure the increasingly in-demand resource is utilised more efficiently. IIC members will receive their copy of the Annual Conference report in due course.

At our Telecommunications & Media Forum in Washington DC on 10-11 December 2019, we will have a session focusing on key readouts from international fora, and a debrief on multi-stakeholder meetings, including WRC-19.

The IIC and satellites

Did you know our origins lie in early efforts to assess the technical feasibility of satellite broadcasting? Read more

How IIC-sponsored cooperation proved the power of satellite as a tool of education. Read more

Additional information and sources

1 NGSO systems are deployed at lower heights than geostationary (GSO) systems: low earth orbit (LEO) systems are at between 400 to 2,000 kilometres above the Earth, whereas medium Earth orbit (MEO) altitudes are between 8,000 and 20,000 kilometres above the Earth. In contrast, GSO systems are at altitudes of 36,000 kilometres. Source: ITU
2 LEO and MEO systems require a fleet of several satellites, known as constellations, to deliver continuous service at the altitudes at which they work. Source: ITU
3 Where licensees do not utilise, or under-utilise spectrum while they attempt to sell on their license at a profit, or to prevent a competitor from gaining an advantage. Source: Wanted Dead or Alive: Satellite Depreciation and Spectrum Hoarding, Adilov, N. et al, 2016

  • Thursday, 21 November 2019

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