ITU To Introduce Stringent Norms For Mega-Constellations

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The ITU has determined to employ stricter rules to prevent radio spectrum hoarding by one satellite, usable by thousands of spacecraft.

The ITU will meet in Egypt in October to discuss and implement new satellite milestones for deployment, particularly for those submitting satellite plans for medium and low Earth orbital satellite systems.

Current regulations allow a satellite operator 7 years to possess an allocated slot and stay there for 90 days, after which paperwork can be submitted. Once assigned, other companies must avoid interference and design systems accordingly.

Regulators are concerned that current rules could cause NGSO frequencies to lie unused for years due to hoarding.

Chief of SSD in ITU, Alexandre Vallet that ITU had received over 1100 applications for satellites, over 200 of which were concerning telecom constellations.

In case those plans went through, preventing interference would be difficult, Hence, ITU is creating regulations that require multiple satellites to be launched in a set time period to retain spectrum rights.

Current FCC regulations in the US require that constellation operators deploy half of their satellites in 6 years and all of them in 9. Otherwise, their allotment would be capped next time. This system is being considered by the ITU.

FCC has jurisdiction only in the US. ITU is responsible for spectrum allocation globally to ensure smooth satellite functioning.

Exhaustive debate during the meeting is to be expected. Although everyone agrees over the necessity for milestones, there is no consensus over their nature yet, as per Mike Thompson, project director working for Access Partnership.

Constellation ventures currently underway are likely to push for regulations, which they can fulfill but which push out their competition.

Customers from small countries are afraid of being shut out. They need equal access to the spectrum, which is why regulations will be more complicated.

Currently, the ITU is flooded with generic satellite filings, so that future buyers can be matched to one of them. Costs of filings are high, but immaterial when compared to overall satellite costs.

Small countries will obviously fight for their rights in constellation business. With huge number of filings, it is impossible for ITU to commercialize them all.

The ITU is in a tough spot. There should be ample regulation, but no one can figure out what it should be.

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