This page discusses the role of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the obligations it makes on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) for managing satellite networks.
Function of the ITU
One of the main functions of the ITU, now a specialised technical agency of the United Nations, is to coordinate and administer radiofrequency allocations to users of spectrum worldwide and minimise harmful interference to radiocommunications services.
To coordinate radiofrequency use, the ITU has set out regulations and publishes technical information about existing and proposed telecommunications systems. Details of proposed satellite networks are filed with the ITU's Radiocommunication Bureau in a specific format and are available for inspection by all national communications Administrations, such as the ACMA.
The ACMA's ITU obligations
Australia became a signatory to the Constitution and Convention of the ITU on 22 December 1922 in Geneva.
The ACMA is responsible for ensuring that all Australian satellite networks comply with the ITU's Radio Regulations. By complying with these international arrangements a space network receives international protection, but it will only achieve legal standing under Australian law if it is authorised by a radiocommunications licence issued by the ACMA.
ITU documents for satellite network operators
ITU Radio Regulations
The Radio Regulations is a document, in four volumes, that contains Articles, Appendices, Resolutions and Recommendations of the ITU relating to international radiocommunications coordination. It is provided as an annexe to the ITU Convention and is revised by the ITU at World Radiocommunication Conferences, normally held every two years.
The relevant Radio Regulations of the ITU for satellite services are:
- Appendix 4 - A consolidation of the lists and tables of characteristics for use in the application of API, coordination and notification procedures.
- Appendices 30, 30A and 30B - Provisions and Plans for the Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS) downlinks and uplinks (Appendices 30 and 30A respectively) and for the Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) (Appendix 30B).
- Article 5 - The Table of Frequency Allocations that defines the spectrum that satellite services can use
- Article 9 - Procedures for effecting coordination with or obtaining agreement of other administrations
- Article 11- Notification and recording of frequency assignments in the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR)
- Article 15 - Interferences
- Article 21 - Terrestrial and space services sharing frequency bands above 1 GHz
- Article 22 - Space Services Resolution 4 - Period of validity of frequency assignments to space stations using geostationary satellites orbits and other satellite orbits.
- Resolution 33 - Bringing into use of space stations in the broadcasting satellite services, prior to entry into force of agreements and associated plans for the broadcasting satellite service
- Resolution 46 - Contains interim procedures for coordination between non-geostationary satellite networks, and between non-geostationary and geostationary satellite networks that share the same spectrum. Note:WARC-2000 decided to retain Resolution 46 as it is applicable to satellite networks whose frequency assignments were received by the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Bureau (ITU-BR) prior to 1 January 1999.
International Frequency Information Circular (IFIC)
Issued fortnightly, the IFIC contains notices of proposed satellite networks to administrations worldwide, known as Advance Publication Information (API). This information used to be published weekly as Weekly Information Circulars (WIC), so any documentation you may find referring to WICs now refers to IFICs.
Master International Frequency Register (MIFR)
A permanent register of authorised frequencies for existing systems, containing the relevant technical data by which a satellite network will operate. Details of a satellite network are only entered into the MIFR after the coordination process has occurred and no administration has any valid objection to the way in which the network will operate.