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World Radiocommunication Conference 2000

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How satellites are brought into service: a brief account of the regulatory steps for satellites using frequency bands falling under the "coordination procedures"

An administration indicates to the ITU its intent of launching a satellite network, providing information such as the identity of the satellite network, date of bringing into use, orbital information and characteristics of the network (frequency range, class of stations and nature of service, power characteristics, characteristics of the receiving and transmitting antennas, noise temperature, necessary bandwidth, emission characteristics, etc).

At this advance publication information (API) stage, the ITU only ensures that the information is complete and if so, publishes it in a special section of the International Frequency Information Circular (IFIC) to all ITU membership for its review of the published characteristics and for its assessment of the likely impact on existing or planned networks. The first step is obligatory in the relevant regulatory procedures but it does not confer any rights or priority for the notifying administration. This provides an opportunity to verify if the intended new satellite network (or changes to existing ones) would create unacceptable interference with those already in service i.e. recorded in the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR) and those already under coordination and yet to be brought into service. Countries have a time-limit of 4 months from the date of publication in the circular to provide comments. The purpose of advance publication is purely to publish as information to all administrations the intent of the notifying administration to bring a satellite network into use.

It is from the date of receipt of the API that the seven years (five years plus a possible two-year extension if requested by the administration responsible for the network) to bring the network into use is calculated.

The next stage of the process is the coordination between all countries which are identified as being affected by the proposed system and the proposing country. This formal coordination is when negotiations take place to iron out the anticipated difficulties. It is at this stage that the ITU checks that the data submitted is in conformity with the Convention, Table of Frequency Allocations and other provisions of the Radio Regulations. To this end, a detailed form (Appendix S4 of the Radio Regulations) is completed by the administration responsible for the proposed new network, providing all data required for the coordination procedure including the characteristics of one or more typical earth stations and the respective service areas in which they may be located. The administrations concerned are those which have been identified by the ITU through the application of the methodology contained in Appendix 29 of the Radio Regulations. These administrations must resolve bilaterally (or multilaterally) any difficulties arising from the proposed new network. This is generally done by changing the technical parameters of the proposed network, often at a series of coordination meetings.

This step is called "Coordination" and it is from that time that the "date of receipt" is stamped, thus giving it its priority in the queue.

After successful completion of the coordination procedure, the notification process can start. Notifications are completed providing at least those basic characteristics given in Appendix S4 and sent to the ITU for examination. Upon receipt of a complete notice, the ITU inserts the particulars, including diagrams, along with the date of receipt, in the IFIC. Publication in the IFIC serves as an acknowledgement to each notifying administration. The Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) examines each notice with respect to its strict conformity with the Constitution and Convention, the Table of Frequency Allocations and other provisions of the Radio Regulations, as well as the satisfactory completion of all coordination required. If a favourable finding is given, it is then published and recorded in the Master International Frequency Register. If not, it is published in the IFIC to advise the ITU Members of the status and the notice is sent back to the notifying administration with the reasons for the unfavourable finding and suggestions to assist in finding a satisfactory solution of the problem.

Frequencies registered in the MIFR have thus obtained international recognition for this ongoing operation.

For a fuller account of the provisions, you may refer to Articles S9 and S11 of the Radio Regulations (detailed but complex).n