The big question
Are British space spitfires ready to enforce OFCOMs ruling?
UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom has kicked off a consultation process regarding licence applications for non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems such as Starlink and OneWeb. The consultation period lasts until 20 September, and the agency has said it will not be processing any applications for NGSO licences …
This what I was wondering as well. If you don't get a British space license, do you have to navigate your satellites around the mighty isles?
If this is going to be BAU, if you want to send a satellite up there, would you need to apply for a license in all 195 countries eventually?
We should create the giant satellite muncher.
- Do you have a license to sail through this particular section of vacuum?
- I am sorry good sir, I don't posses such license.
- Oh that's too bad.
*sounds of satellite being ingested by the giant satellite muncher*
"What are Ofcom going to do about a cloud of satellites launched elsewhere"
They'll apply the usual regulatory sanctions. After all, these are economic ventures aimed at turning a profit. They want to be able to operate in the UK.
And if the operator doesn't have a UK presence, then there's the ITU. Even if they haven't got their act together over satellites, I'm sure there are mechanisms via which they can be sanctioned - no nation wants to end up with international telecommunications curtailed because of a bunch of pirates located in their territory.
Also governments can talk to governments. Beaming random interference over a nation is a hostile act. I imagine the US government/FCC would lean on its operators to shut down transmissions over the UK. For other governments, it will depend on how much they want to up the temperature. But if they're prepared to do that to us, then we, or our allies, could do the same back. It benefits everyone to have some order. The only way I can see some fly-by-night operator getting away with flagrant violations of reasonable licencing restrictions would be if it was a John-McAfee wannabe operating a handful of satellites out of a tropical island.
OFCOM could specify that the satellites must be able to de-orbit, i.e. crash into the earth once it comes to end of life, to stop the clutter and debris etc.
There are projects that are planning to collect ?, or other, the satellite. So would it not be better to specify that the satellite can de-orbit so saving the future of clutter and interference. OFCOM could state that no operating licence will be given in the UK, unless this is implemented.
(or has this been taken care of already ?)
De-orbit isn't going to be a problem, the orbit of Starlink is so low that they will be lucky to last 5 years.
Of course if OFCOM is unhappy with this it can ban them operating in the UK. But their only potential customers are likely to be in remote bits of the highlands and islands - so no real political problems of banning rebellious Scots from having internet.
And sovereign Britain can always impose sanctions on the USA to prevent SpaceX being able to build them.
OFCOM will no doubt be aware that they are now responsible for filing for OneWeb's satellites to the ITU and that the USA's FCC have already presented filings to the ITU for Starlink's initial 12,000 satellites and for future additional 30,000 Starlink satellites. And, as OFCOM provide the UK's delegation to the ITU, they must be aware that all of this is within the remit of the ITU and not that of OFCOM or any other national regulator.