ITU rules causing problems for Indonesia

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Indonesia holds certain orbital rights to the 113 degrees East slot, but it must occupy the position with a working satellite by August 2019. The International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) rules oblige satellite operators to “bring into use” their approved schemes by certain key dates. For Indonesia it is next month.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications & Informatics applied for the orbital slot with the ITU in August 2012, and stated the craft would be called Palapa-C1-B. The ITU granted Indonesia a 7-year window to occupy the slot.

Indonesia signed a contract with China Great Wall Industry Corp, which builds satellites, in May 2017, but the contract reportedly was not commenced until October last year. Indeed, the actual contract recognises that the new satellite will not be lunched until June 2020.

Hence the headaches for Indonesia. The country does have a satellite in the position (Palapa D) but the craft does not operate all of the frequencies applied for with the ITU.

Normally a satellite operator would lease or even buy a satellite which did have the correct frequencies and move the craft to its nominated position. But on this occasion this has proved impossible, says the Ministry.

Consequently, Indonesia is now asking the ITU for an extension to the 7-year allowance. Space Intel Report suggests that permission will be granted on the basis that Indonesia is a developing nation. But until an ITU extension is granted the Ministry might be somewhat anxious.


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