Ofcom consults on licensing changes for NGSO constellations such as OneWeb


Ofcom consults on licensing changes for NGSO constellations such as OneWeb

It has announced a consultation period ahead of new proposals for its licensing of the NGSO systems. In order to ensure the quality of such satellite broadband services, it is proposing new checks on interference risks when it considers licence applications.

It says it wants to achieve “greater visibility” around these applications, as well as strengthening its ability to deal with harmful interference if it occurs.

Ofcom also says it wants “to mitigate the risk of earlier systems hindering the deployment of those coming later because of the interference they could cause, and therefore potentially restricting competition”. To this end, it is proposing new checks on competition when it considers NGSO licence applications.


NGSO systems

The regulator writes:

NGSO systems are technically more complex than earlier satellite broadband systems as they plan to use many hundreds, if not thousands, of satellites orbiting the Earth. Satellite dishes need to track these satellites as they move across the sky, unlike existing satellite networks where the dishes are fixed pointing at a single satellite which is stationary in the sky.

This means it is more complex for NGSO satellite operators to agree how to operate their networks without causing harmful radio interference to each other. They are required to do this under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations, although in many cases these agreements are yet to be concluded. This creates a risk that interference between NGSO networks could cause localised degradation to the quality and reliability of these services.

You can read the Ofcom consultation document, and submit responses, here. You can read the full “Non-geostationary satellite systems – Licensing updates” document here (PDF).

The consultation period will end 20 September 2021.

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