Alphasat broadcasting from geostationary orbit

Satellite frequency bands

Satellite technology is developing fast, and the applications for satellite technology are increasing all the time. Not only can satellites be used for radio communications, but they are also used for astronomy, weather forecasting, broadcasting, mapping and many more applications. 

With the variety of satellite frequency bands that can be used, designations have been developed so that they can be referred to easily. 

The higher frequency bands typically give access to wider bandwidths, but are also more susceptible to signal degradation due to ‘rain fade’ (the absorption of radio signals by atmospheric rain, snow or ice).

Because of satellites’ increased use, number and size, congestion has become a serious issue in the lower frequency bands. New technologies are being investigated so that higher bands can be used. 

frequency allocation in satellite communication

L-band (1–2 GHz)

Global Positioning System (GPS) carriers and also satellite mobile phones, such as Iridium; Inmarsat providing communications at sea, land and air; WorldSpace satellite radio.

S-band (2–4 GHz) Weather radar, surface ship radar, and some communications satellites, especially those of NASA for communication with ISS and Space Shuttle. In May 2009, Inmarsat and Solaris mobile (a joint venture between Eutelsat and Astra) were awarded each a 2×15 MHz portion of the S-band by the European Commission. 

C-band (4–8 GHz)

Primarily used for satellite communications, for full-time satellite TV networks or raw satellite feeds. Commonly used in areas that are subject to tropical rainfall, since it is less susceptible to rainfade than Ku band (the original Telstar satellite had a transponder operating in this band, used to relay the first live transatlantic TV signal in 1962).

X-band (8–12 GHz)

Primarily used by the military. Used in radar applications including continuous-wave, pulsed, single-polarisation, dual- polarisation, synthetic aperture radar and phased arrays. X-band radar frequency sub-bands are used in civil, military and government institutions for weather monitoring, air traffic control, maritime vessel traffic control, defence tracking and vehicle speed detection for law enforcement.

Ku-band (12–18 GHz)

Used for satellite communications. In Europe, Ku-band downlink is used from 10.7 GHz to 12.75 GHz for direct broadcast satellite services, such as Astra.

Ka-band (26–40 GHz)

Communications satellites, uplink in either the 27.5 GHz and 31 GHz bands, and high-resolution, close-range targeting radars on military aircraft.

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Video Course 1: Basics of Satellite Communications: Lecture 2: Frequency Allocations, Spectrum and Key Terms

Joseph N. Pelton Follow

This is an introductory course in satellite communications for the non-engineer. It covers the basic systems technology for all types of satellite systems for telecommunications including Fixed Satellite Systems (FSS), Mobile Satellite Systems, and Broadcast Satellite Systems (BSS) as well as provides a quick introduction to all ITU defined communications and scientific services. This course gives an overview of spacecraft structures, power systems, advances in solar cells, thermal management, radiation and high energy bombardment, stabilization and deployment techniques, TTC&M, and orbital orientation. It also provides the basic concepts and a working understanding with regard to modulation, multiplexing, and coding systems for modern communications satellite transmission systems and ground systems.

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Pelton, Joseph N. (2021) "Video Course 1: Basics of Satellite Communications: Lecture 2: Frequency Allocations, Spectrum and Key Terms," Online Journal of Space Communication : Vol. 5: Iss. 11, Article 2. Available at: https://ohioopen.library.ohio.edu/spacejournal/vol5/iss11/2

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Regulatory Process for Communications Satellite Frequency Allocations

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frequency allocation in satellite communication

  • Ram S. Jakhu 4  

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Ready access to radio frequencies with limited interference and appropriate orbital positions are indispensable and highly valuable tools for all satellite communications. However, radio frequencies are limited, natural, and international resources. Furthermore, the global demand for radio spectrum has been increasing exponentially. Acting primarily through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the international community has developed a very complex regulatory regime that provides detailed rules and processes that govern the international allocation and allotment of radio frequencies and orbital positions. This chapter briefly describes those regulatory processes as well as the manner in which they are created as part of the functioning of the ITU.

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P.J. Brown, Iranian in a jam over satellite blocking, ATIMES (2010), http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LC25Ak04.html . Accessed 26 March 2010

F. Butsch, GPS and GLONASS radio interference in Germany, http://elib.uni-stuttgart.de/opus/volltexte/1999/278/pdf/278.pdf . Accessed 25 Feb 2011

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Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University, 3690 Peel Street, H3A 1W9, Montreal, QC, Canada

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Sergio Camacho-Lara

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Jakhu, R.S. (2013). Regulatory Process for Communications Satellite Frequency Allocations. In: Pelton, J.N., Madry, S., Camacho-Lara, S. (eds) Handbook of Satellite Applications. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-7671-0_14

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Indian Space Industry Unites Against Spectrum Auction, Advocates for Administrative Allocation

Several industry bodies as well as space based communication companies have responded to TRAI, positioning themselves against the auctioning of spectrum.

frequency allocation in satellite communication

Space-based communication companies in India and industry associations are unanimously against the auctioning of spectrum which is the process currently used to allocate spectrum to telecom companies. Instead, they suggest that an administrative allocation process should be used for satellite communication services. Here are the key arguments made by three industry bodies—SatCom Industry Association (SIA) India, Indian Space Association (ISpA), and Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA) and Indian aerospace startups— Dhruva Space and Xovian Aerospace.

No need for exclusive assignment of spectrum:

[Note: TRAI asked this in reference to higher frequency bands such as C, Ku, and Ka spectrum bands.]

No need to distinguish space-based communication services into different classes:

All the companies/ associations were largely against the categorization of space-based services. SIA India mentioned that satellite spectrum allocations are inherently flexible. The same spectrum can be used for Direct-to-Home (DTH) on one satellite and for internet access or mobile backhaul on another satellite, the actual application of a satellite at any given time depends on customer demand. As such, it would be artificial to categorize satellite spectrum for different classes of service. 

Eligibility for gaining access to satellite spectrum:

Xovian Aerospace argues that the spectrum for satellite communication should be assigned through an administrative allocation approach.  A robust mechanism should be in place to provide all the industry players an equal and fair chance of participation in the administrative allocation process irrespective of the availability of any existing license. 

  Practical limits to how many satellite systems can operate in the same frequency range:

ISpA, on the other hand, suggests exact limit on the number of NGSO systems that can operate on the same frequency range will depend on factors such as— the frequency bands used, the satellite orbits, the power levels, the antenna beam widths, and the degree of frequency coordination among the various systems, among others.

Terms and conditions for assignment of spectrum for user and gateway links: 

Discussing the rollout period for satcom services, Dhruva Aerospace pointed out that emerging enterprises may require a longer period to build and establish space assets after having clarity on the assignment of spectrum. Hence, roll-out obligations should be such that within 3 years of spectrum assignment, if services are not rolled out, the spectrum should revert back to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). 

Rollout obligations may create unnecessary burdens for satcom providers:

GSOA believes that rollout obligations (like the ones asked for by Dhruva Space and ISpA) are a regulatory measure typically used to address the shortcomings of terrestrial operators, who tend to focus their network deployment in revenue-generating areas. It argues that satellite services aim to fill the gaps left by terrestrial networks and says that imposing roll-out obligations on satellite service providers, “may create unnecessary burdens and obstruct the efficient deployment of satellite networks.” 

Instead of rollout obligations, GSOA suggests that a flexible regulatory framework should be established for satellite services focusing on facilitating deployment to address coverage gaps and enhance connectivity for unserved or underserved areas.

Charging mechanism under administrative allocation:

ISpA suggests the following factors that should be considered when creating a charging mechanism— 

  • Cost of managing and regulating the spectrum
  • How the fee will affect costs for end users: Higher fees would drive up costs for the average person and adversely affect connectivity. 

GSOA on the other hand,  suggests that the government should solely focus on covering administrative costs while for the latter, it should charge 1% of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) as a fee or waive it “since this spectrum is used primarily for connecting the unconnected.”

Using international spectrum charges as a benchmark for administrative allocation:

SIA India thinks that India can draw from the experiences of other jurisdictions to decide how to charge for satellite spectrum. It explains in other parts of the world some (the United States and the United Kingdom) have chosen a cost recovery model whereas others (Canada and Australia) have implemented charges that vary by the amount of spectrum allocated to an entity. SIA says that all these countries have lowered the fees charged for satellite services in recent years for a range of factors including “benchmarking their costs against their international peers.”

It says that India should bear in mind that its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is lower than the countries mentioned above and should ensure that spectrum fee is, “ reasonable, invites investment, and is not disproportional to the revenues that service providers can ultimately expect from end users.” SIA says that it would not be unreasonable to adopt TRAI’s recommendation of charging 1% AGR as a spectrum fee for satellite services.

All associations don’t agree with SIA India’s suggestion, ISpA and GSOA think that India needs to create its own benchmarks. GSOA says that while India should consider international benchmarks, it is essential to “carefully select the data points, considering markets with similar needs and stages of development.” It believes that comparing India’s spectrum pricing to markets with comparable demand and progress will provide a more accurate and relevant benchmark for spectrum pricing.

Using auction prices for IMT (international mobile telecommunication)/5G services as the basis for valuing spectrum for space-based services : 

Dhruva Space: The company argues that telecom service providers using terrestrial spectrum can afford auction models economically as the revenue generation and existing user base is very large. It explains that satellite services only earn 0.2% of the mobile operators’ revenue. Using IMT/5G services as a benchmark for auction prices would be like, “treating unequals on the same footing, which is a violation of the fundamental right to equitable treatment,” it says.

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IMAGES

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  5. ITU-R: Managing the radio-frequency spectrum for the world

    Establishment and updating of international regulations on the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. ... consider a new allocation for both the Earth-to-space and space-to-Earth directions of aeronautical VHF communications. ... consider a possible upgrade of the allocation of the frequency band 14.8-15.35 GHz to these ...

  6. Spectrum Management at NASA

    Spectrum allocation is a distribution of frequencies to radio services. An allocation designates the use of a given frequency band for use by one or more radio communication services. National and international tables of frequency allocations contain lists of these frequency band designations. Currently, the U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations ...

  7. ITU SpaceExplorer: Satellite frequency data at your fingertips

    Data dashboards. ITU SpaceExplorer, a new platform launched by ITU's Radiocommunication Bureau, aims to provide user-friendly, detailed insights into the radio frequency data of these increasingly numerous satellites. The web-based application enables users to delve into radio-related data through intuitive, highly visual dashboards.

  8. Regulatory Process for Communications Satellite Frequency Allocations

    Processes for Obtaining Radio Frequencies and Orbital Slots. The main goals of the ITU's international regulatory regime governing satellite communications are to avoid harmful interference and to ensure equitable access to radio frequencies and satellite orbital slots. According to Article 45 of the ITU Constitution:

  9. PDF Satellite Communications and Space Telecommunication Frequencies

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  11. Regulation of satellite systems

    International allocation of radio frequencies . In order to meet the ever-growing radio spectrum needs of the satellite sector (and of all other sectors using radio frequencies), ITU oversees regular updates of the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of radio frequencies worldwide, including outer space.. These regular updates are performed through the convening of ...

  12. "Frequency Allocations, Spectrum and Key Terms" by Joseph N. Pelton

    This is an introductory course in satellite communications for the non-engineer. It covers the basic systems technology for all types of satellite systems for telecommunications including Fixed Satellite Systems (FSS), Mobile Satellite Systems, and Broadcast Satellite Systems (BSS) as well as provides a quick introduction to all ITU defined ...

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  16. Frequency Resource Allocation for Satellite Communications System Based

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  17. Frequency allocation in a SDMA satellite communication system with beam

    Kata Kiatmanaroj, Christian Artigues, Laurent Houssin, Frédéric Messine. Frequency allocation in a SDMA satellite communication system with beam moving (ICC 2012). 2012 IEEE Inter- national Conference on Communications (ICC 2012), Jun 2012, Ottawa, Canada. pp.3265-3269, �10.1109/ICC.2012.6363801�. �hal-03195463�. Frequency Allocation ...

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    Satellite Communication and Spectrum Allocation - Volume 76 Issue 1. 2 The international legal definition of "geostationary satellite orbit" is the "orbit in which a satellite must be placed to be a geostationary satellite." International Telecommunication Union, World Administrative Radio Conference Radio Regulations (1979) [hereinafter cited as ITU Radio Regulations], Art.

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