Satellite Frequency Coordination and Role of FAB

The frequency coordination of satellite networks is a complex process in which the administrations engage in technical negotiations to ensure harmonious operation of two or more satellite networks without mutual interference. The parties involved in the satellite frequency coordination try their best to make sure (to the extent possible) that the operation of new satellite network entering into the densely populated satellite market neither causes nor receives interference above a permissible level from another satellite network having overlapping frequency band and/ or coverage under specified conditions.  The exercise of frequency coordination can take place at various levels such as at the operator’s level or at the administration’s level as mutually agreed between the concerned parties.  The sole purpose of satellite frequency coordination is to arrive at mutually acceptable solution between affected parties through bilateral or multilateral negotiations. It is important to mention that the final authority for signing an agreement of frequency coordination rests with the administration who has actually filed the satellite network with ITU and not with the operator. The operators of two sides may sign the agreement reached during the meeting at operator’s level requiring final approval of the respective administrations. The main objective behind satellite frequency coordination is to allow the entry of new satellite networks into the system of already operational satellites and provide them with equal opportunity to compete, without having adverse effects on existing systems.

It is an established fact that orbital slots in geo-stationary earth orbit and associated radio frequency spectrum are two prime examples of scarce resources in the modern world of wireless communications. In order to have access to the scarce orbital slot in geo-stationary earth orbit and to make sure that proposed new satellite network would not cause harmful interference to the already operational or planned satellite networks and terrestrial services of other administrations, the ITU-R Radio Regulations necessitate that the new satellite network must be coordinated with all other radiocommunication systems that might be affected due to its proposed operations. It can be concluded that access to orbital positions and the establishment of international rights in that respect is hinged on the successful culmination of applicable international satellite network frequency coordination, notification and recording procedures. The said procedures are outlined in detail in various Articles and Appendices of the ITU-R Radio Regulations as amended from time to time at WRC. As per these procedures of ITU, the administrations of new satellite network is required to effect frequency coordination with already operational/ planned satellite and terrestrial networks of other countries that might be affected. The successful frequency coordination of a satellite network is very much dependent on the nature of the newly proposed satellite network, the environment in which the proposed network intends to operate (meaning the orbital position, spectrum and intended coverage area on the surface of earth). The level of expertise and negotiating skills of the team that the selected applicant brings to the negotiation table also plays a very vital role in frequency coordination. In addition to above, the coordination mechanisms defined in ITU-R Radio Regulations ensure that the same portion of radio frequency spectrum can be reused to the extent possible from each agreed orbital position in geo-stationary satellite orbit, without any interference from one satellite to the other, thus resulting in a much more efficient use of the scarce resources, which is also the ultimate goal behind the development of ITU-R Radio Regulations by international community through a very lengthy and time consuming process.

The frequency assignments associated to a particular orbital slot that conform to the ITU-R Radio Regulations upon successful conclusion of the frequency coordination process, receive international recognition/ rights in the form of their recording/ entry in Master International Frequency Register (MIFR) maintained by ITU as derived from the Provisions of Article-8.

The spectrum managers vested with the responsibility of satellite frequency coordination are required to be very well equipped in order to effectively undertake the above mentioned intricate task of satellite frequency coordination both in terms of skills and modern tools (hardware and software).

FAB being the designated notifying administration of Pakistan for satellite networks at ITU is responsible for the satellite frequency coordination of national satellites (GSO & NGSO) with other administrations for their affected services whether space or terrestrial. The well equipped professional staff of N&IC Wing of FAB is discharging this duty of satellite frequency coordination with full commitment and devotion. To this effect, FAB has successfully completed the frequency coordination and registration process for the frequency assignments of PAKSAT Satellite Networks at orbital location of 38ºE in the un-planned bands

Satellite Network Filings

In addition to above, Administration of Pakistan also has the following planned band allocations under Appendix-30/ -30A / -30B of the Radio Regulations:

(ITU) and Satellite Coordination

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is acting as the central hub to coordinate the activities for the formulations of rules and regulation for the use of radio spectrum and satellite orbits globally. The ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations since 1947 and was established way back in 1865.  The ITU is recognized as one of the oldest international organizations, regularly revising and updating its procedures and methodologies in order to support the emerging trends and demands of the modern society.  From the start of the 20th Century, all forms of wireless communications relying on radio waves are deliberated upon internationally under the ITU.  The first World Space Radiocommunication Conference held in 1963 has integrated the satellite orbit and radio frequency spectrum into a combined concept of the spectrum and orbit resources.

The objectives behind the establishment of ITU are clearly listed in the Constitution and Convention of ITU.  They include, among others: facilitating peaceful relations, international cooperation among peoples and economic and social development effect allocation of bands of the radio-frequency spectrum, the allotment of radio-frequencies and registration of radio-frequency assignments and any associated orbital positions in the geostationary-satellite orbit in order to avoid harmful interference between radio stations of different countries coordinate efforts to eliminate harmful interference between radio stations of different countries and to improve the use made of the radio-frequency spectrum and of the geostationary satellite orbit for radio-communication services” This activity must, however, not interfere with the principle of sovereignty, and the sovereign rights of each country to regulate its telecommunications”.

Based on its functions the ITU has been divided into three major Sectors:

The ITU-D (Telecommunication Development Sector)

The ITU-T (Telecommunication Standardization Sector)

The ITU-R (Radiocommunication Sector)

The satellites in geostationary orbit are required to observe rules and regulations of ITU due to their international service nature.  Before a new satellite can start provision of service to the end users, the operator of that satellite is bound to notify the satellite to ITU under the said rules through some designated notifying administration of any Member State at ITU.  As per the applicable rules and regulations of ITU, the new satellite network is required to conclude an agreement of frequency coordination with already operational/ planned satellites having higher priority. The priority and rights of satellites is established under the regulations of ITU based on the first come first serve basis. Thus, it can be concluded that the satellite networks entering later in the market are required to operate within the scope/ conditions defined in the agreements of frequency coordination with respect to satellite networks at higher priority.

Once the required coordination has been completed and a satellite network is in operation, the satellite will be entered in the ITU Master Register. Such registration means that the satellite is internationally recognized and has a right to use the orbital slot and frequency assigned to it for the whole operational life of the satellite.

 

The frequency coordination of satellite networks is achieved under the international radio regulations developed in the framework of International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  The Radio Regulations describe a comprehensive mechanism for an efficient and interference free use of the radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. These Regulations have a treaty like status and are legally binding on all 193 Member States of ITU covering the entire globe.  It is also important to mention that each Member State of ITU is still independent/ sovereign in deciding how to regulate the radiocommunication services within its national boundaries without creating interference problems to neighbouring countries.

Some very important Articles and Appendices of the Radio Regulations involved during the entire process of frequency coordination are listed as following:

Frequency Allocations

Procedure for effecting coordination with or obtaining agreement of other administrations.

Notification and recording of frequency assignments.

Terrestrial and space services sharing frequency bands above 1 GHZ

Appendix 4, 5, 8, 30, 30A & 30B

The Importance of International Coordination:

The radio waves have the characteristics to propagate beyond the international borders without being hindered by the manmade political boundaries. The fundamental idea behind the development of satellite system was that its transmissions can facilitate global communications being independent of distance between the sender and receiver. The harmonization of standards throughout the international markets would facilitate much simpler and cost effective equipment production which is also the ultimate goal of communications system manufacturers. It is imperative for the sector regulator to actively participate in the spectrum related activities of both regional and international forums due to the above mentioned reasons. Regular participation in these events would not only provide an opportunity to safeguard national interests but also contribute towards international development. International activities include those within the ambit of ITU, those within other such a like international organizations, and bilateral/ multilateral discussions between member states of ITU in accordance with applicable Radio Regulations of ITU. The organization responsible for spectrum management in the country is required to establish strong linkages, communicate and consult with all the direct and indirect stakeholders, i.e. the radio users composed of businesses, the communications industry, government users and the general public. This includes dissemination of information on the policies, rules and practices of the administration and provides mechanisms for feedback to evaluate the effectiveness of these policies, rules and practices.

Over the past two decades the use of satellite technology has enormously increased especially for commercial purposes and it is further expected that the use of satellites would continue to escalate in the future as well while looking at the market trends and interest shown by various key players. While knowing that both radio spectrum and satellite orbital positions are scarce and limited in nature, it is important for the administrations to ensure their efficient use by adopting balanced policies and rules for their assignment. The policy of any member state regarding the provision of satellite services should always facilitate permission to maximum number of systems technically feasible, with minimal amount of interference between those systems. This would certainly encourage the introduction of new innovative systems / services/ technologies and stimulate the economy of the country.

Responsibilities of FAB

Responsibilities of FAB as the Notifying Administration of Pakistan at ITU for the Satellite Program of Pakistan:

  1. Represents the Administration of Pakistan and is the focal/ contact point for all 193 Member States of ITU, foreign satellite operators and other related international organizations.
  2. Receives BR IFIC (Space Services) from the ITU-R fortnightly, containing data on frequency assignments of all new/ modified satellite networks submitted to ITU:-
  • Advance Publication Information (API).
  • Coordination Requests (CR/C).
  • Suppression of Satellite Networks.
  • Data of Satellite Networks under Appendix-30, -30A & -30B (Planned Bands).
  • Due Diligence Information/ Resolution 49 Data.
  • Acknowledgement of Notification by ITU.
  • Favorable findings and permanent recording of assignments in the MIFR.
  • Unfavorable findings and cancellation of Notification Data.
  • Circular Letters of ITU related to Space Services.
  1. Carries out analysis of the information contained in the BR IFIC and takes necessary measures to protect the filed & planned satellite networks and terrestrial networks of Pakistan in accordance with the applicable Provisions of ITU-R Radio Regulations.
  2. Prepares appropriate responses and starts correspondence with the responsible administrations of all those satellite networks having potential of harmful interference.
  3. Receives requests/ proposals for coordination from other administrations and satellite operators. Exchanges technical proposals to conclude the frequency coordination. All this correspondence is also copied to ITU-R for record.
  4. If the frequency coordination is not achieved through correspondence then meetings of frequency coordination are arranged on mutually agreed agenda.
  5. Provides regulatory support to all concerned agencies/ organizations in Pakistan related to space services in the light of applicable Radio Regulations, ITU procedures and Recommendations.
  6. Provides input on the agenda items related to space services of WRC and other such a like international forums while formulating proposal on behalf of GoP.
  7. Participates in the meetings, seminars and trainings organized by APT on satellite communications.
  8. To handle any other regulatory matter related to space services not covered in the above mentioned points.

Technical Expertise and Facilities at FAB

FAB is well equipped both in terms of trained human resource and software tools, required to carryout the intricate task of satellite frequency coordination under the regulatory framework of ITU. The relevant staff of FAB is trained and groomed to a competent level by providing ample opportunities to participate in national and international trainings, seminars, meetings & forums.

FAB has established a lab for the frequency coordination of national satellite networks having following software tools used for satellite filing preparations and interference analysis:

1

BR Soft

2

AP7Capture

3

GIBC

4

GIMS

5

SAM

6

SpaceCap

7

SpaceCom

8

SpacePub

9

SpaceQry

10

SpaceRefdb

11

SpaceVal

12

SPS

13

Visualyse of Transfinite

14

CHIRplus_SAT of LS telcom

Utilizing the services of above mentioned trained staff and technical tools, FAB has successfully coordinated the frequency assignments of PAKSAT-1 Satellite Network at 38°E with 32 administrations identified by ITU under RR No. 9.7 in the overlapping C and       Ku-Bands. The right of Pakistan to operate a satellite has been established at the orbital location of 38°E in both C & Ku-Bands through their recording in the MIFR of ITU as per Article-11 of ITU. The frequency coordination of additional PAKSAT filings is in progress with high priority networks. The frequency coordination of NGSO Satellite Networks is also being pursed with the affected administrations as per the applicable Radio Regulations.

The coverage of a single satellite in geostationary orbit may be extended up to one third of the globe approximately. Due to this international nature of satellite service, it is necessary that the satellites should also be planned and managed through some international framework/ mechanism. The international framework for the planning and management of satellites is developed by the ITU with the cooperation and support of all Member States. The role and mandate of the Member States of ITU in respect of regulating the radio spectrum and orbital slots (in geostationary orbit) has been clearly defined in Article-44 of the Constitution of the ITU and also in No. 0.3 of the ITU-R Radio Regulations. As per RR No. 0.3: “In using frequency bands for radio services, Members shall bear in mind that radio frequencies and the geostationary-satellite orbit are limited natural resources and that they must be used rationally, efficiently and economically, in conformity with the provisions of these Regulations, so that countries or groups of countries may have equitable access to both, taking into account the special needs of the developing countries and the geographical situation of particular countries”.

The frequency coordination for a satellite networks is required to be initiated well in advance as to allow timely launch and operation of the intended satellite. The satellite frequency coordination is a mandatory process based on the principal of first-come–first-served basis (in un-planned bands) involving negotiations between administrations (or operators) in order to ensure the most efficient use of the orbital positions and radio spectrum resources thereby, minimizing the chances of harmful interference. The frequency coordination leads way to the next stage in satellite frequency management i.e. the satellite recording/ registration in the Master Register of ITU, which establishes international recognition in respect of the use of those frequency assignments from that particular orbital slot in the geostationary arc. The procedures for the frequency coordination and registration of satellite networks have been clearly written down in the Article-9 and Article-11 of the Radio Regulations, respectively. The Radio Regulations incorporates the decisions of the World Radiocommunication Conferences, including all Appendices, Resolutions, Recommendations and ITU-R Recommendations incorporated by reference. The Radio Regulations, current Edition, contains the complete texts of the Radio Regulations as adopted by the World Radiocommunication Conference (Geneva, 1995) (WRC-95) and subsequently revised and adopted by the World Radiocommunication Conference from time to time. The Radio Regulations are accessible from the following web address of ITU:

http://www.itu.int/pub/R-REG-RR/en

Further information and guidelines about the satellite frequency coordination and notification is available at the following link (ITU Presentation):

Coordination and Notification of Non Planned Satellite Networks

In the last decade or so, there has been an unprecedented increase worldwide in the total number of terrestrial and space radio stations used for the provision of different services. The new wireless services require more and more radio spectrum due to high data rate demands of the market and this demand is ever increasing. One other factor is that the tremendous growth of radio stations has also resulted in demand for more radio spectrum. There has been a significance increase in the number of frequency assignments registered with ITU in the last few years than during the whole previous history of radiocommunications. The introduction of most recent services and technologies has been mainly attributed towards the liberalization, privatization, competition, and deregulation of the telecom markets in the world.  The satellite communications can surely fulfill the promise of universal worldwide communication services accessible anywhere, anytime, and at affordable cost to the end users. The introduction of new wireless technologies would not only facilitate human lives but would also provide a boost to the current shaky global economy.

One of the foremost difficulties the radiocommunication is confronting in today’s world is the apparent orbit congestion and scarcity of radio frequencies. Looking at the frequency assignments status worldwide, it is obvious that most of the prime radio spectrum have already been used in many regions of the world. Therefore, there is no further place for new radio stations and new services in those frequency bands and geographical areas. The situation for satellites in the geo-stationary earth orbit is not more different. So this current situation in terms of congestion in radio spectrum and orbital positions is very alarming for the respective managers of the scarce resources. The ever increasing disproportion between the demand and availability for radio spectrum & orbital positions, invites immediate attention of the international community for proper planning and management as it deserves.

Satellite services are becoming more and more important for the business, social and scientific applications, offering a unique ability to deliver communications to all those parts of the world not adequately served by other means of communications. In order to operate a satellite network, it is mandatory to gain access to the radio spectrum to be used as a mean for transporting data to and from the satellite from the earth. In addition to the radio spectrum, the satellite would also require a parking slot in the geo-stationary earth orbit. It is important to mention that the orbital position in the geo orbit will certainly influence the area of the globe that may be illuminated from that particular orbital location. While looking at the scarcity of radio spectrum, the demand for the same is growing day by day since new wireless technologies (both mobile and broadband are at the forefront in terms of spectrum demand) are developed. To satisfy the spectrum requirement of new innovative wireless technologies, the job of spectrum managers is getting harder and harder to identify new frequencies for the delivery of new communications services. The portion of geo-stationary orbit where placing a satellite can provide services to commercially more attractive markets of the world is almost congested, so it is very hard to find an orbital slot in the said portion of geo orbit. It is evident that if the radio spectrum and associated orbital slots are not used with utmost efficiency; the competition, innovation and growth in communications services will be finished. It is necessary that the radio spectrum and associated orbital positions needs to be managed in such a manner that adequate separations are maintained between satellites in order to ensure interference free operation. Due to the international nature of satellite services, the frequency coordination of satellites also takes place within regulatory framework developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Non Planned Satellite Services (Coordination and Notification)

Resource Person

Mr. Ihsan Ullah Khan

Director (N&IC)

Email:      i.khan@fab.gov.pk

Phone # 0092-51-9259269,

Fax # 0092-51-9258400

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