Monday, 21 May 2018 12:00

Satellite services fear mobile push as 5G nears


Satellite service operators appear to be feeling the heat as the time nears for 5G services to be rolled out, fearing that they will be pushed aside by mobile services.

The Satellite Services Working Group, a division of the telco industry lobby group Communications Alliance, today called for measures to be taken to ensure that 5G mobile services and satellite-based services can co-exist.

The SSWG issued a discussion paper on Monday, calling for discussions between the government - meaning the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Department of Communications - regulators, industry and other stakeholders on the future of satellite services.

In a statement, the group claimed that given the licensing conditions, some satellite systems and space operation facilities were not able to operate effectively.

"Australia’s commercial space operations account for approximately 75% of the nation’s space market – worth almost $4 billion in 2015-16 – according to estimates published by the Federal Government’s recent review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability," the discussion paper said.

The paper said fixed satellite services and international Mobile services may be able to co-exist in the same frequency band.

"However, the ability to share is often reduced through simplistic ‘single service’ spectrum licensing when the band is ‘re-farmed’ (an ACMA term) for mobile services," it said.

"The ACMA should give greater consideration to the potential for shared use where feasible, as spectrum becomes an increasingly scarce commodity that is sought after by various services and applications."

The discussion paper also pointed out that in some cases, such as High Density Fixed Satellite Services (HDFSS), sharing was not possible as the location or future locations of FSS terminals is not known. HDFSS is used to provide high-speed broadband services to areas that are not being adequately or economically served by other means.

"In this case, protected ‘core’ satellite-only bands are needed which should not be shared with international mobile telecommunications," it said.

The SSWG has 20 members including satellite operators, service providers and ground-segment specialists. These are: Australian Private Networks (APN), Coutts Communications, Foxtel, FreeTV, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Ipstar, NBN Co, Omnispace, OneWeb, Optus, Orion Satellite Systems, Pivotel Satellite, SES, Skybridge, Space Systems/Loral, Speedcast, Step Electronics, Telstra and ViaSat.

However it clarified that the discussion paper did not claim to represent the views of all Communications Alliance members, including those from Telstra as an SSWG member.

"The SSWG believes that it is now time for the ACMA to take a more holistic view of spectrum management and look to the needs of the whole communications community, not just the desires of the IMT proponents to maximise available spectrum, so as to minimise spectrum access costs," the paper said.

"The SSWG believes the ACMA should devote at least two experienced planning engineers to, along with the SSWG, study the needs of the FSS/MSS community in Australia and to plan for the future of these services before undertaking new IMT spectrum planning beyond the current 26 GHz band.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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