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Non-geostationary satellite systems

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Challenges and solutions

ITU’s contribution

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

The agreement reached at WRC-19 established regulatory procedures for the deployment of non-GSO systems, 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 (MIFR) reasonably reflects the actual deployment of such non-GSO satellite systems in specific radio-frequency bands and services.

This agreement strikes a balance between the prevention of radio-frequency spectrum warehousing, the proper functioning of coordination, notification and registration of frequency assignments in the MIFR
and the operational requirements related to the deployment of non-GSO systems.

Filings for frequency assignments to non-GSO satellite systems composed of hundreds to thousands of satellites have been received by ITU since 2011, 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-R on tolerances for certain orbital characteristics of non-GSO space stations of the fixed-satellite, mobile-satellite, and broadcasting-satellite services to account for potential differences between the notified and deployed orbital characteristics,
​ as well as for the possible development of non-GSO post-milestone procedures.​

Last update: June 2021