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Satellite Coordination News Release

30 June 2017

For imme­di­ate release 

IARU Aligns Satel­lite Coor­di­na­tion Guide­lines with ITU WRC-15 Decisions

As the glob­al fed­er­a­tion of nation­al asso­ci­a­tions of radio ama­teurs in more than 150 coun­tries, the Inter­na­tion­al Ama­teur Radio Union (IARU) for many years has pro­vid­ed fre­quen­cy coor­di­na­tion ser­vices for ama­teur satel­lites free of charge. Often these satel­lites are con­struct­ed by stu­dents at uni­ver­si­ties and oth­er insti­tu­tions as a part of their edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence. In gen­er­al, they have been licensed to oper­ate in the ama­teur-satel­lite ser­vice, which is defined by the Radio Reg­u­la­tions of the Inter­na­tion­al Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union (ITU) as hav­ing the “…pur­pose of self-train­ing, inter­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and tech­ni­cal inves­ti­ga­tions car­ried out by ama­teurs, that is, by duly autho­rized per­sons inter­est­ed in radio tech­nique sole­ly with a per­son­al aim and with­out pecu­niary interest.”

Some admin­is­tra­tions have issued exper­i­men­tal licens­es for such satel­lites oper­at­ing in ama­teur-satel­lite fre­quen­cy bands. The IARU has coor­di­nat­ed these satel­lites as well, to reduce the pos­si­bil­i­ty of harm­ful inter­fer­ence that might result from unco­or­di­nat­ed oper­a­tion. Since 1 July 2014 it has not been pos­si­ble to coor­di­nate exper­i­men­tal satel­lites in the 144–146 MHz band because of the high prob­a­bil­i­ty of harm­ful inter­fer­ence in this heav­i­ly used band.

Edu­ca­tion­al satel­lite projects have grown in pop­u­lar­i­ty as launch oppor­tu­ni­ties have increased. In 2012 the ITU World Radio­com­mu­ni­ca­tion Con­fer­ence took note of the pro­lif­er­a­tion of what in Res­o­lu­tion 757 (WRC-12) it called “nanosatel­lites and picosatel­lites” and invit­ed WRC-18 (now sched­uled for 2019) to con­sid­er steps to facil­i­tate their deploy­ment and oper­a­tion. Two Reports, ITU‑R SA.2312 (09/2014) and ITU‑R SA.2348 (05/2015), are instruc­tive regard­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics, def­i­n­i­tions, spec­trum require­ments, and noti­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures of and for such satel­lites, which gen­er­al­ly must use spec­trum below 1 GHz for oper­a­tional reasons.

At the fol­low­ing WRC in 2015, in place of Res­o­lu­tion 757 the Mem­ber States of the ITU adopt­ed Res­o­lu­tion 659 (WRC-15) in which it was not­ed that the use of 144–146 MHz and 435–438 MHz by non-ama­teur satel­lites is not in accor­dance with the def­i­n­i­tion of the ama­teur-satel­lite ser­vice in the Radio Reg­u­la­tions. Res­o­lu­tion 659 cites the two reports men­tioned above and makes it clear that the spec­trum needs of what are now called “non-geo­sta­tion­ary satel­lites with short dura­tion mis­sions” should be met either with­in the ser­vice in which the space sta­tion is oper­at­ing or with­in the space oper­a­tion ser­vice. Fur­ther, if new or upgrad­ed allo­ca­tions to the space oper­a­tion ser­vice are required, stud­ies should be lim­it­ed to the fre­quen­cy ranges 150.05–174 MHz and 400.15–420 MHz.

Accord­ing­ly, effec­tive 1 August 2017 the IARU will be fol­low­ing revised guide­lines for satel­lite fre­quen­cy coordination.

The strong pref­er­ence is for all satel­lites using spec­trum allo­cat­ed to the ama­teur and ama­teur-satel­lite ser­vices to oper­ate under ama­teur licens­es and with­in the def­i­n­i­tion of the ama­teur-satel­lite ser­vice and the ser­vice-spe­cif­ic Arti­cle 25 of the Radio Reg­u­la­tions. The IARU believes the def­i­n­i­tion is suf­fi­cient­ly broad to encom­pass near­ly all edu­ca­tion­al satel­lite projects that include giv­ing stu­dents hands-on expe­ri­ence with radio­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and are con­duct­ed under an ama­teur license.

The IARU will only coor­di­nate a non-ama­teur satel­lite if an admin­is­tra­tion directs in writ­ing that it be oper­at­ed in an ama­teur-satel­lite band under an exper­i­men­tal or oth­er non-ama­teur license.

Satel­lites with com­bined ama­teur and non-ama­teur mis­sions will con­tin­ue to be coordinated.

Print This Page Updated on January 30, 2020

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