What is an API?
Before a satellite network can be brought into use, the Administration must provide a general description of the network to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This information is published in a special section of the ITU's fortnightly International Frequency Information Circular (IFIC).
This general description of the network is known as the Advance Publication Information (API) and is issued to all ITU members to review its characteristics and assess its likely impact on existing or planned networks.
The description must identify the satellite network, indicate the date at which it is to come into use, and provide orbital information and characteristics of the network such as frequency range, class of stations and nature of service.
An API can only be submitted to the ITU by the Administration of a member state. As the Administration for Australia, the ACMA will only file an API to the ITU on behalf of satellite operators whose networks meet its published criteria and who enter into a Deed of Agreement with the ACMA.
If a network being established is based on a foreign space object, the network operators must contact the responsible Administration in order to file an API.
How is the API filed?
Since 3 June 2000, an API, including all alphanumeric data, has to be provided in electronic database format. The ITU has developed software known as SPACECAP which enables this information to be placed into the appropriate format.
What happens to the information?
While this first step is obligatory, the ITU only ensures that the information is complete and publishes it as provided. It does not confer any rights or priority for the filing Administration. The purpose of the API is simply to provide an opportunity to verify that the proposed satellite network needs to be coordinated with those already in service (i.e. recorded in the Master International Frequency Register ) or those already subject to coordination and yet to be brought into service.
How long does it take?
The API should be provided to the ITU at least two years but no more than five years before the date the network is brought into service.
For any API lodged with the ITU since 22 November 1997, the ITU Radio Regulations require that the satellite network be brought into use within seven years of the lodgement date. However, Administrations can seek extensions of up to two years if needed.
If a satellite network is not brought into use within the period allowed by the ITU Radio Regulations, the API and any subsequent coordination requests are cancelled by the ITU.
Once the API is published in the IFIC, other Administrations have up to four months to assess the satellite network's potential to interfere with their existing and proposed networks and advise the ACMA that coordination will be required.