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Radio communication Conference adopts new regulatory procedures for non-geostationary satellites

The 38th ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) has adopted a new innovative milestone-based regulatory approach for the deployment of non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) satellites in specific bands and services.

The agreement reached at WRC-19 establishes regulatory procedures for the deployment of non-geostationary satellites, including mega-constellations in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

The milestone-based approach will provide a regulatory mechanism to help ensure that ITU’s Master International Frequency Register reasonably reflects the actual deployment of such NGSO satellite systems in certain frequency bands and services.

In defining more flexible timelines and objective criteria, this approach also seeks to strike a balance between the prevention of spectrum warehousing, the proper functioning of coordination mechanisms, and the operational requirements related to the deployment of NGSO systems.

While satellites in geostationary orbit are aligned with the earth’s rotation at an elevation of 36,000 km, NGSO satellites move across the sky during their orbit around the earth, in medium Earth-orbit 8,000 – 20,000 km above the earth and in low-Earth orbit at elevations between 400 and 2000 km.

With the availability of launch vehicles capable of supporting multiple satellite launches, mega-constellations consisting of hundreds or thousands of spacecraft are becoming a popular solution for global telecommunications, including to remote rural areas and isolated communities, providing low-latency broadband coverage (owing to their proximity to the earth’s surface), remote sensing, space and upper atmosphere research, meteorology, astronomy, technology demonstration and education.

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