EDITOR’S NOTE: We are excited to present this entry in our TMT2020 series, which reflects the key technology, media, and telecoms legal issues that are expected to impact today’s organizations and tomorrow’s marketplace. It also provides an opportunity to highlight contributions by TMT colleagues across our global offices and practice areas.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Smallsat Conference held at Utah State University. An estimated 2,200 attendees, approximately 10% more than last year, flew into Logan, Utah (population ~48,000) from all parts of the world to see the latest developments in smallsats. As many veteran conference attendees will note, the growing interest in the Smallsat Conference has strained the supply of housing accommodations. Much like this housing shortage, the increasing number of commercial smallsat operators has put pressure on the availability of spectrum.

While smallsat operators are not communications service providers, all operators need access to spectrum for satellite telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) and data downlinks. Because spectrum is a limited resource, operators increasingly have had to coordinate with other users and be flexible in their own spectrum requests.

In recognition of the growing demands of commercial smallsat operators and Federal government interest in promoting a robust U.S. commercial space sector, a number of proactive industry participants, including representatives of a number of Federal agencies, held the first informal meeting of the Commercial Smallsat Spectrum Management Association (CSSMA), based loosely on the well-established Federal “NASA/DoD/DOC Spectrum Management Precoordination Working Group.”

The core idea is simple – the parties would work together to streamline the current frequency coordination process, facilitate commercial access to spectrum, and minimize interference through coordinated operations among users. The briefing touched on the spectrum management issues facing the smallsat community, the need for coordination with incumbent space programs, and the bifurcation of spectrum management within the U.S.

The kick-off meeting was a resounding success with approximately 50 attendees, including representatives from the FCC, NASA, NOAA, Planet, Space Sciences, Spire, and others. The CSSMA plans to have a more formal meeting on September 16, 2016 in Washington, D.C. at the offices of Hogan Lovells. To RSVP or for more information on the upcoming event, please visit www.hoganlovells.com/CSSMAMeeting.

If I don’t see you in D.C., hope to see you next year in Utah. Just remember, if you plan on going, book your room early!