Ofcom has published a consultation on its proposed changes to the Procedures for the Management of Satellite Filings (“Procedures”). Ofcom is seeking to consolidate, update and clarify the Procedures and also deal specifically with relevant issues that have occurred in relation to declarations made to the International Telecommunication Union (“ITU”) that satellite networks have been brought into use.

Ofcom manages the process for obtaining orbital positions and frequency assignments for satellites within the framework of rules operated by the ITU, for those organisations registered in the UK, the British Overseas Territories, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The most recent version of the Procedures was published in March 2007. After its consultation in November 2007, Ofcom published a Statement in May 2008 which updated some aspects of the Procedures. 

Over the last seven years, Ofcom has identified further ways to simplify and streamline the Procedures and this consultation also aims to bring the Procedures into line with changes made to the ITU’s Radio Regulations at the last two ITU-R World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC-07 and WRC-12). The proposed changes to the Procedures relate to:

  • the due diligence requirements under Section 5;
  • the evaluation of applications and the notification of networks where coordination has not been completed under Section 6;
  • the detailed Ofcom filing procedures and bringing into use satellite networks under Section 7;
  • the transfer of ownership and control of a UK satellite network filing by one operator to another under Section 11; and
  • the suspension of assignments of UK satellite network filings by Ofcom under Section 12.

Ofcom is inviting comments on its proposals by 10 July 2015 and plans to arrange a workshop on 10 June 2015 to discuss with stakeholders the proposed changes to the Procedures. Following the conclusion of the consultation, Ofcom aims to publish a statement in late Q3/early Q4 2015 and to implement the changes shortly after. It will be interesting to see whether other national regulatory authorities will take equivalent steps in response to the same issues that are being addressed in this consultation.