The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s bare-knuckled attack on satellite operators’ refusal to share Ka-band spectrum with future 5G terrestrial mobile providers ripped through the Satellite 2016 conference here like a cold mountain wind.
The attempt by terrestrial broadband networks to gain access to C-band frequencies currently reserved for satellite use mainly failed, with the exception of the lower piece of C-band that had already been partly opened to them in 2007.
Global regulators ended the third week of their four-week conference on future radio spectrum allocation Nov. 20 without having reached a decision on the key issues relating to commercial satellite telecommunications industry.
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.
Several of the world’s largest commercial satellite fleet operators on Oct. 22 made an 11th-hour attempt to persuade global governments not to allow terrestrial broadband networks to use spectrum currently reserved for satellites.
While no final decisions will be made until a Nov. 2-27 meeting of global governments at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in Geneva, it now appears many nations want to permit terrestrial broadband into the lowest part of the spectrum being contested.
Arab nations are willing to cede to terrestrial mobile telecommunications operators some of the spectrum now reserved for satellite links at an upcoming meeting of global regulators, the chairman of the regional grouping of Arab spectrum experts said May 26.
The Satellite 2015 conference featured repeated exhortations for the satellite sector to defend itself against any encroachment onto its reserved C-band spectrum from terrestrial broadband. But there were exception
The chief executives of SES, Intelsat and Eutelsat each gave a flat “No” when asked whether spectrum now reserved for satellites in most places in the world would be subject to sharing under pressure from mobile broadband networks.
ESOA 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.