back to article UK regulator Ofcom seeks more powers to deal with mega constellations

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 …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    The big question

    Are British space spitfires ready to enforce OFCOMs ruling?

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The big question

      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?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The big question

      Move over ITU, OFCOM is here. Britannia rules the airwaves.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    This is a global problem

    It should be dealed with on a multi-national basis otherwise satellites will be sent up bearing the flag of whatever nation is most lax

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is a global problem

      Exactly. What are Ofcom going to do about a cloud of satellites launched elsewhere that don't offer services in the UK but may interfere with UK services? What can they do? Waste our money.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: This is a global problem

        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*

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: This is a global problem

        "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.

  3. Dr. Vagmeister

    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 ?)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        @YAAC

        Speaking on behalf of rebellious Scots, Glasgow manufactures more satellites than anywhere in the world outside of Houston.

        So far these are just used to surveille Edinburgh, but they could be deployed over England. Take them down.

    2. myithingwontcharge

      "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"

      If it's just an Ofcom requirement, that "crash into the earth" can only happen in the UK.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The nice thing about a global satellite network is that all latitudes get a chance to be a target - not just the tropics

        1. myithingwontcharge

          "The nice thing about a global satellite network is that all latitudes get a chance to be a target"

          Yes but what if they make not crashing on their country a condition of being granted a licence? :-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You mean if the UK makes de-orbiting a requirement, and everyone else makes it a requirement to not crash in their territory? I imagine the commute to work gets a little more interesting... you get to play dodge the satellite.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    First one up, wins

    > We are therefore concerned that NGSO satellite services could be deployed before an appropriate level of coordination has been possible with other operators

    Isn't that exactly what they are trying to do?

  5. JohnG

    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.

  6. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Oneweb = Brexit satellite network

    OFCOM are doing the bidding of their masters. This is a fairly naked attempt to ensure Oneweb have a commercial advantage in the UK

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