Satellite Group Expands Ahead of C-band Fight at WRC

by

WASHINGTON — The European Satellite Operators Association, ESOA, on March 16 said it was expanding its reach into the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union, bringing in a dozen new satellite operator members to add muscle on the eve of a regulatory battle with terrestrial wireless interests.

The new members include the major operators in Africa and the Middle East and Central Asia, but with the notable exception of Russia’s two main fleet operators, Russian Satellite Communications Co. and Gazprom Space Systems.

Satellite operators worldwide have made clear their opposition to any surrender of C-band spectrum to terrestrial broadband providers at the World Radiococommunication Conference (WRC), scheduled this fall in Geneva. WRC meetings of world government regulators are held every three or four years by the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency that regulates wireless radio spectrum and orbital slots.

Terrestrial wireless broadband networks are looking for additional spectrum and have won at least some support for access to the lower portion of the C-band spectrum currently reserved for satellite links.

“The geographic expansion of ESOA is also in response to the overwhelming push on satellite operators to combine their efforts and lead the charge to protect highly sought-after spectrum and retain their place as high value contributors to digital markets,” ESOA said in a statement.

Michel de Rosen, chief executive of Paris-based fleet operator Eutelsat and president of ESOA, said: “Preserving access to our spectrum at WRC-15 is currently our number-one priority…. We will have a louder voice by joining forces to ensure our users don’t lose out and our massive investments are not in vain.”

The new ESOA members include Amos Spacecom of Israel, Arabsat of Saudi Arabia, Azercosmos of Azerbaijan, Es’hailSat of the United Arab Emirates, Nigcomsat of Nigeria, Thuraya and Yahsat, both of the United Arab Emirates, Turksat of Turkey and Bulsatcom of Bulgaria.