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Ofcom opens consultation on new satellite strategy

SpaceX_Satellites.jpg
A SpaceX satellite launch.

Ofcom is seeking stakeholder input on its next Space Spectrum Strategy, which is intended to address the growing number of NGSO satellites and their use of spectrum.

Consultation is open until 24 May and will focus on both NGSO and Earth observation satellites, while also paving the way for better regulation of cubesats.

Ofcom said its aim is to "make it even easier for a broad range of space users to access spectrum" and cited the increased activity of OneWeb and SpaceX.

With specific reference to communications satellites Ofcom said: "We want to see efficient spectrum use by these systems and for as many as possible to offer services to people and businesses in the UK."

It also stated: "The size of the satellite communications sector is increasing, both in terms of the number of satellites and the number of new entrants, and NGSO satellite systems are creating new spectrum management challenges. We have introduced a new NGSO licensing process and will pursue improvements to international NGSO rules.

"We will also consider providing access to spectrum that could boost the capacity of a range of satellite services."

The strategy has been summarised into efficient spectrum use; opportunities and challenges raised by NGSO satellite communication systems; and allowing "innovative projects in the space sector", i.e. cubesats, through the aforementioned new frequency and authorisation options.

Specifically on communications satellites, Ofcom said: "The size of the satellite communications sector is increasing, both in terms of the number of satellites and the number of new entrants, and NGSO satellite systems are creating new spectrum management challenges. We have introduced a new NGSO licensing process and will pursue improvements to international NGSO rules. We will also consider providing access to spectrum that could boost the capacity of a range of satellite services."

Space debris and safe access to space will also be addressed, due to the "rising numbers of space objects and proposals for mega-constellations".

Ofcom last published such a strategy in 2017, which also focused on supporting growth in both satellite broadband and Earth observation. That work has now "largely been delivered".

Ofcom said the number of space launches increased by almost 60% between 2017 and 2021, marking a significant change in the sector.

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