The Nov. 21 launch of LaoSat-1 highlights three trends changing the global satellite telecommunications market, including regulators' willingness to relax the rules for poor nations.
The United States and Germany, backed by several large commercial satellite fleet operators, are fighting an uphill battle to persuade global governments to allocate Ku- or Ka-band satellite spectrum for the command and control of unmanned aerial vehicles on transoceanic or trans-continental routes.
Global governments’ approval of radio spectrum permitting aircraft to provide additional tracking data to satellites reduces the chance of another lost jet like Malaysian Airlines MH370 and immediately improves the business case for Iridium Satellites and its Aireon LLC aircraft-tracking affiliate.
A proposed wave of low Earth orbit communications satellite constellations could become an interference hazard for satellites in geostationary orbit even if those new systems comply with existing rules, some satellite operators fear.
The British dominance includes seven registrations with the United Kingdom’s Ofcom and nine filed through British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
Satellite operators have long been aware of the challenge they face from terrestrial broadband providers for C-band spectrum at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-2015) this November in Geneva. The question is what they’re going to do about it.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), frustrated that the satellite industry appears incapable of defending its own interests, is calling on ITU governments to submit letters attesting to the importance of satellite C-band radio spectrum before terrestrial broadband networks take it away from them.
Measuring the future value of radio spectrum is difficult. When the spectrum is not auctioned, but allocated by regulatory ruling, value assessment is even tougher. One measure is corporate attendance at ITU meetings.
International radio-frequency regulators agreed to address satellite-based global commercial aircraft tracking when they meet at WRC-15 to allocate spectrum that will also decide whether frequencies currently reserved for satellite services will be opened to terrestrial broadband wireless networks.
The astonishing increase in the number of small satellites being launched singly or by the dozen has caused friction between international regulators on the one side and, on the other, satellite developers and some national governments that look the other way instead of enforcing the rules.
The International Telecommunication Union has registered at least a half-dozen filings for massive constellations in the past eight weeks, a development that suggests a Gold Rush mentality may be taking hold.