by Jason Rainbow — July 26, 2021
TAMPA, Fla. — British telecoms regulator Ofcom is proposing rule changes that would affect Starlink, OneWeb and other satellite constellations operating in non-geostationary orbits (NGSO).
It is increasingly difficult for companies to agree on how to operate their NGSO networks without causing harmful radio interference to each other, Ofcom warned in a July 26 consultation document it issues before creating new rules.
NGSO operators are required to coordinate their networks under International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations; however, Ofcom pointed to how “in many cases” these arrangements have not yet concluded.
“This creates a risk that interference between NGSO networks could cause localised degradation to the quality and reliability of these services,” it stated.
SpaceX’s Starlink constellation is currently estimated to exceed 1,600 satellites in NGSO, U.K.-based OneWeb has 254 and Canada’s Kepler Communications is operating around 15. All aim to expand their network significantly.
Canada-based Telesat, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and other NGSO ventures are racing to join them with large constellations of their own in low Earth orbit.
Ofcom proposes new checks on interference risks when it considers NGSO license applications and more powerful tools to deal with them if they emerge.
It said it is also seeking greater visibility into license applications in a public comment period that ends Sept. 20.