Home Asia-Pacific I 2002 Satellite Regulatory Reform: Asia’s Great Leap Step Forward

Satellite Regulatory Reform: Asia’s Great Leap Step Forward

by david.nunes
David HartshornIssue:Asia-Pacific I 2002
Article no.:8
Topic:Satellite Regulatory Reform: Asia’s Great Leap Step Forward
Author:David Hartshorn
Title:Secretary General
Organisation:Global VSAT Forum
PDF size:48KB

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Article abstract

VSATs support a broad range of domestic and international communications. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, regulatory procedures make it difficult to provide service. The Global VSAT Forum is working to streamline licensing and make national regulations accessible and “transparent” to potential users. The Forum’s MRA initiative is working to eliminate separate equipment approval standards, in each and every country. The implementation of VSAT-based Open Skies policies will enable Asian operators to meet the demand for regional IP-based services.

Full Article

“… Universal access is now not so much an engineering or supply-side problem but rather a regulatory and policy challenge.” -ITU World Telecommunication Development Report(March 1998) Introduction Forget about a great leap forward. All that’s needed to facilitate communications in Asia are a few small steps. Indeed, today all nations of the world have an immediate opportunity to advance essential telecommunication policy objectives through harmonisation of regulations governing the use of telecommunications solutions. Take, for example, fixed satellite-based network services. During the past 15 years, the satellite communications industry has been developing and refining network solutions such that today, there are more than one million so-called Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) systems installed and operating in more than 120 countries – many of which are located in the Asia-Pacific region. Practically speaking, this level of deployment means that economies of scale are now being realised that enable the cost effective use of such systems and services for a broader range of applications in even the most inhospitable locations. This trend is not theoretical. VSAT-based systems are already facilitating the creation of a global economy in the developed nations by reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and improving productivity. Likewise, least developed countries (LDCs) are also turning to VSAT-based solutions which – being distance independent – make it possible to link the providers of raw materials to agents, to shippers, to importers, to retailers and, finally, to consumers in widely-separated geographic areas. VSAT services can now support a broader range of domestic and international communications objectives than ever before. A snap-shot of typical services includes: · Internet Via Satellite · Distance Learning · Rural Telecommunications · Telemedicine · Disaster Relief · Government Closed User Groups · National and Multi-national Networks · Broadband Data Communications · Multicast VSAT Services · Intergovernmental and Corporate Applications · PSTN Infrastructure Extension · News Distribution Services End users of VSAT-based solutions find that vendors can provide inexpensive, single communications platforms serving an entire country, a region or the world. Global demand for such connectivity has enabled VSAT technology to rise from a niche technology to a mainstream telecommunications platform used by corporations, governments, and personal users. The survey reveals that, through close collaboration between government administrations and the VSAT industry, effective national deregulatory approaches are being implemented in an increasingly harmonised regional context. This has occurred with help from the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administration (CEPT), the Telecommunications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (TRASA), and the European Commission (EC). National administrations can avail themselves of this support to move forward with plans to facilitate more effective satellite communications services. In general, the Global VSAT Forum sees increasing recognition by regulatory agencies that “less is more”- that imposing less regulation results in more access to essential communications and, in turn, generates business, creates jobs, yields higher export earnings, and attracts foreign investment. The following are a few regulatory solutions being implemented in regions like the Asia Pacific: Streamlined Licensing: Traditionally, most governments have required licensing of individual VSAT terminal in addition to requiring a network operator’s license. Several years ago, the U.S. government implemented a “blanket licensing” approach for VSATs that has been very successful. With blanket licensing, VSATs are configured based upon technical criteria (power level, frequency, etc.) to eliminate the risk of interference so a single license can be issued covering a large number of VSAT terminals. This approach has worked well the U.S. regulator, for industry and for end users. The U.S. – which has one of the most highly developed fiber-optic infrastructures in the world – is also home to the largest installed base of VSAT networks in the world. This shows that VSATs are an essential complement to terrestrial systems, and that the blanket-licensing has facilitated cost-effective satellite service availability. Recently, Brasil’s regulator, Anatel, issued the nation’s first VSAT blanket license. The local licensee has reported that they can now provide more cost effective satellite-based solutions The U.S. and Brasil aren’t the only countries to streamline their VSAT-licensing approaches; 43 European nations are now eliminating the need for individual licensing of receive-only and interactive VSAT terminals. This policy was adopted through the regional CEPT and recently have begun to be implemented by national administrations. Europe’s policy principle exempts interactive Ku- and Ka-band VSAT terminals from individual licensing requirements, provided the systems meet selected criteria. Countries that have implemented the policy include the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Norway. Numerous other administrations, reportedly, are soon to announce their implementation dates. It is important to note that implementation of blanket licensing in Europe’s is not required by the CEPT. Each country decides whether they want to implement this on a local level; individual regulators decide to proceed based on their national interests. The same is occurring the Asia Pacific region. In each implementation, the key technical criteria has been basically the same: that VSAT Earth stations do not pose a risk of unreasonable interference with other services. Thus, individual licensing of satellite terminals becomes unnecessary. VSATs operating in the Ku-band will be subject to this approach, although there is more Ku-band satellite capacity in the Asia Pacific than at any other time in history. All that remains is for Asian administrations to implement these proven, streamlined approaches to licensing VSAT-based services. Transparency: Huge amounts of time, money and effort are spent each year by the communications industries of every country in an attempt to determine what regulations apply to VSAT-based systems and services. This difficulty – this lack of “transparency” – is so severe that service providers often give up or, worse, commits to provide service only to find obscure regulations which compromises them and the end user.Recognizing the importance VSAT services, governments around the world have begun prominently posting VSAT regulations on websites. South, Central and North American countries have a VSAT licensing database with the licensing requirements for many countries in the region. The database, administered by the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL), can be seen at www.citel.oas.org/pcc3/vsat/vsat_information_of_licensing.htm. 16 countries have already posted their VSAT licensing requirements on this website European governments have gone even further. A database developed by the CEPT includes the satellite-licensing data for many of its 43 member administrations at www.eto.dk In the second phase of the European program, which is to be completed this year, an applicant will be be able to apply for licenses through this website – for any combination of European countries – using a single electronic application form. Each governmentwill retain total control of the licensing process, but the database and software facilitate simple access to information and easy processing of license applications by the individual administrations. As with streamlined VSAT licensing, all of the countries that are participating in transparency programs are doing so on a voluntary basis. The advantages of making data readily accessible are clear; the posting of regulatory requirements is quick, inexpensive, reduces the burden on administrations, and enables industry to effectively provide services. In Asia, meanwhile, the APT has recently launched a website having, among other features, a reference section on telecommunications licensing. Asian administrations should take the next step: Post their licensing conditions online and hotlink them to the APT’s regional facility(www.aptsec.org). Type Approvals: Type approval of telecom terminals has long been recognized by national administrations as a problem. Testing requirements from country to country are often redundant, resulting in major delays, higher costs and less efficient provision of communications. That’s why the Asian members of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation group (APEC) signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement to facilitate the elimination of redundant type approval testing. And that’s why CITEL is currently moving toward adoption of a similar regime for South, Central and North America. Recently, European Community (EC) legislation began to be implemented that eliminates government type approvals of VSAT and other telecom terminals. This change is a result of the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive 1999/5/EC (the “R&TTE Directive”), which introduces a system based on manufacturers’ declaration of conformity and relaxation of the regulatory constraints on the free movement and use of terminal equipment. Finally, as an interim solution, the Global VSAT Forum’s MRA Working Group has developed a technical framework called the “Mutual Recognition Arrangement.” The framework defines a set of standardised measurements that, after satellite-operator type approval testing is completed, produces a data package that can be used by administrations as a means of satisfying their domestic type approval requirements. These new approaches if implemented by every nation, would benefit both public and private sectors, with faster more cost-effective access to communications and elimination, or reduction, of unnecessary regulation. Open Skies: In the past, governments developed policies to protect their country’s satellite systems. These “Closed Skies” policies require service providers to use only locally-owned satellite capacity for VSAT services. This problem is particularly acute in Asia, where some administrations continue to “protect” local satellite operators behind a veil of regulatory market-access barriers. The main result of such practises is that the provision of regional satellite-based network solutions is prevented – to every operator’s detriment. Recognition of this apparent than in June 2001, at the meeting of Asia satellite operators in Singapore. The meeting agenda was premised on the fact that many or most satellite operators serving the region have the same problem: Their regional beams are under-utilized – and not for lack of demand. Satellite network operators continue to have extreme difficulty providing multi-national telecom solutions, which limits the satellite industry’s ability to provide services. During the meeting, the satellite operators agreed to jointly support the implemention of a VSAT-based Open Skies policies to enable them to meet demand for regional IP-based services in Asia. Their timing was good. Governments are realising that tremendous demand for Internet, data, voice, video and other essential services is best addressed by policies that permit open access to all satellite resources, assuming that they have been properly co-ordinated through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This approach is gradually being adopted by administrations in every major region of the world including, for example, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines and India in Asia, Nigeria in Africa, Brasil in South America, most of Western Europe and North America, and others. While the policies being implemented around the world today are not completely open, they all will permit increased access to orbital resources, regardless of the satellite operators’ country of origin. Conclusion Remarks There is an apparent trend, globally – from Asia to Europe to the Americas to Africa, for national administrations to improve access to communications by implementing state-of-the-art regulations governing the use of satellite communications… step

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