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Non-geostationary satellite systems

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Challenges and solutions

ITU’s contribution

Delegates representing ITU Member States agreed at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to adopt an innovative new milestone-based approach for the deployment of non-geostationary satellite (NGSO) systems in specific radio-frequency bands and services.

The agreement reached at WRC-19 establishes regulatory procedures for the deployment of NGSOs, including mega-constellations in low-Earth orbit.

Under the newly adopted regulatory regime, these systems will have to deploy 10% of their constellation within 2 years after the end of the current regulatory period for bringing into use, 50% within 5 years and complete the deployment within 7 years.

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

It also seeks to strike a balance between the prevention of radio-frequency spectrum warehousing, the proper functioning of coordination mechanisms, and the operational requirements related to the deployment of NGSO systems.

Filings for frequency assignments to NGSO satellite systems composed of hundreds to thousands of satellites have been received by ITU since 2011, in particular in frequency bands allocated to the fixed-satellite service (FSS) or the mobile-satellite service (MSS).

The Conference also specifically called for further studies by ITU on tolerances for certain orbital characteristics of NGSO space stations of the fixed-satellite, mobile-satellite and broadcasting satellite services as well as for the possible development of post-milestone procedures.​

Last update: Dec 2019 ​