As reported on March 19th, Arabsat’s 6A satellite will launch next month and come into service later this year. Its position in orbit could cause a major headache for London-based speciality satellite operator Avanti.
Arabsat 6A will be positioned at 30.5 degrees East. Avanti’s existing Hylas-2 craft is positioned at 31 degrees East, effectively in the same position.
The problem is that Arabsat says that it has been operating Ka-band frequencies from its position. Avanti alleges that this is not the case, and thus is not creating interference problems.
According to Space Intel Report, Avanti argues that Arabsat “doesn’t even have Ka-band capacity”.
Regulator Ofcom has has written formally to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and says that the lack of activity in Ka-band from Arabsat “can only mean that Arabsat 5A has not been transmitting [in Ka-band] for at least 3 years.”
Ofcom, in its letter, says that Avanti has tried to reach a coordinated approach with Arabsat to the use of the common frequencies but had been rebuffed.
The problem, or potential problem, is that Avanti’s next satellite, Hylas-3 will launch later this year and operate in Ka-band from 31 degrees East.
Arabsat claims that it is using the contested frequencies but only on a “military” basis.
The dispute rests on the fundamental ITU rules which demand that any satellite – and its frequencies – must be “brought into use” within 3 years. Failure to do so means the cancellation of the registration for the frequencies.
Claiming that usage is for “military” purposes means that the ITU cannot challenge usage.