Australia: Australian Communications and Media Authority – Frequency Coordination for Satellites

When the details of a proposed satellite network are submitted to an Administration, it checks that they meet national and international guidelines then forwards them to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU then publishes the details as Advance Publication Information (API) in its fortnightly International Frequency Information Circular (IFIC).

The IFIC contains information of proposed satellite networks submitted by Administrations worldwide. Those countries affected by the proposed system are identified by the ITU using a methodology contained in its Radio Regulations.

Submitting a Coordination (C) Notice

Article 9, No. 9.6 of the ITU Radio Regulations requires an Administration seeking coordination of a proposed satellite network, to submit technical data to the ITU in a format specified in Appendix 4 of the ITU Radio Regulations.

The information must identify the satellite network, indicate the date at which it is to come into use, and provide orbital information and characteristics of the network such as frequency range, power characteristics, characteristics of the receiving and transmitting antennas, noise temperature, class of stations and nature of service, necessary bandwidth, and emission characteristics and so forth. All alphanumeric data has to be provided in electronic format however, graphical information, such as antenna patterns, coverage contours, and so forth, are accepted in paper form.

The ITU Radiocommunication Bureau checks that the data conforms to its Convention, Table of Frequency Allocations and other provisions of the ITU Radio Regulations. Using this data, it then publishes an AR11/C/... notice or coordination request, also known as a 'C' Notice. Each notice is allocated a sequential number.

The coordination information may be submitted to the ITU before, at the same time as, or after the API is submitted. While it can be submitted at any time, it will still not be deemed to have been received by the ITU until six months after the API. The date of receipt of the coordination information places it in a queue for examination by the ITU. The sooner the API is submitted, the sooner the 'C' Notice is looked at.

After the Coordination Notice is published

Affected administrations have four months from the date of publication of the notice, to respond to the Administration seeking coordination. An Administration does not have to respond with agreement, only disagreement and it must provide the technical details upon which its disagreement is based.

If there is potential for interference, formal negotiations take place to minimise any anticipated difficulties. The affected Administrations must resolve any difficulties arising from the proposed new network, generally by changing the technical parameters of the proposed network, often at a series of coordination meetings. Coordination may also involve negotiations with the satellite operators or between operators to agree on what frequencies will be used. Coordination agreements proposed by operators are normally subject to the approval of their sponsoring Administrations. Only Administrations can record agreements with the ITU.

Who can coordinate?

Some satellite operators within Australia receive their own copy of the IFIC's and perform their own coordination assessment. Although ACMA is ultimately responsible for finalising arrangements to establish Australian satellite networks with the ITU, satellite operators are encouraged to undertake some coordination activities, or to employ organisations that do coordinate on a commercial basis.

ACMA provide Letters of Delegated Authority to authorise certain Australian satellite operators to negotiate directly with other operators. These letters advise other Administrations that the operator of a particular Australian satellite network is authorised to coordinate the operation of that satellite network.

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