Advanced Television

Ofcom satellite services spectrum boost

March 22, 2024

By Colin Mann

UK comms regulator Ofcom has published three documents which aim to enable more spectrum access for the growing satellite connectivity sector in the UK.

Satellite operators offer a range of broadband services in the UK, such as helping better to connect homes and businesses in hard-to-reach rural areas, as well as on trains, in the air and at sea.

Ofcom is also proposing to make more 28 GHz spectrum available for use by fixed links.

Increasing satellite and fixed link use of the 27.5-30 GHz band

In its decision and further proposals on the 27.5-30 GHz (‘28 GHz’) band Ofcom:

  • Sets out its decision, following consultation, to make 560 MHz more spectrum available for use by earth station gateways, which are large dishes on the ground that connect a satellite network to the internet;
  • Proposes to introduce a new mechanism to enable satellite gateway access to the whole band, subject to consultation processes to avoid material impacts on incumbent Spectrum Access licensees;
  • Proposes to enable some additional spectrum access for satellite land terminals – the dishes and antennas used by customers to connect to a satellite network – and fixed links; and
  • Seek views on demand for unused 28 GHz spectrum blocks in London and Northern Ireland.

Ofcom is inviting feedback on the proposals by May 31st 2024, and plans to publish its decision later this year.

Potential for spectrum in the Q, V, E bands to be used for satellite gateways

Ofcom is also inviting input on the possibility of making spectrum in the Q and V bands (37.5-43.5 GHz, 47.2-50.2 GHz and 50.4-52.4 GHz), and E band (71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz) available for satellite gateway earth stations.

This is something which satellite operators who responded to its 2022 Space Spectrum Strategy consultation said will be important to enable future services. Ofcom is seeking views by 14 June 2024 and plan to set out its next steps later in 2024.

Kepler application for NGSO network licence

Finally, Ofcom is proposing to grant an earth station network licence to Kepler for its constellation of non-geostationary orbiting (NGSO) satellites.

Ofcom has received an application from Kepler to cover its use of terminals – which can be on a building, in the air or at sea.

Kepler already has 15 satellites in orbit and plans to launch a total of 140 satellites. It says it will use its network to support a host of applications, from store and forward-based IoT services to real-time data transfer services when the network reaches full deployment.

Ofcom is inviting comments on Kepler’s application, and on its proposal to grant the licence, by April 29th 2024. Ofcom will take into account all responses to this consultation before reaching a final decision.

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Business, Policy, Regulation, Satellite, Spectrum

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