This week ESA is hosting the 7th Operators Review Meeting (ORM) of all the L-band Mobile Satellite Operators in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia. The meeting is taking place at Estec from 28 November to 2 December.
L-band is the main frequency band used by satellite operators for mobile services. It allows operations from relatively small self-contained terminals without need for local infrastructure. It represents therefore the ideal solution for users on the move needing communications in remote areas such as deserts, mountains, oceans and wherever a quick independent communication system is needed.
L-band applications are varied: mobile telephony, closed user networks such as Civil Protection authorities, maritime communications, satellite news gathering (SNG), aeronautical radio-navigation and new applications under definition.
Unfortunately only 33 MHz of spectrum are available for all mobile satellite operators worldwide and associated applications. Therefore 7 years ago it was decided that all operators in ITU Regions 1 and 3 (Europe, Africa, Middle-East, Asia, Oceania) would meet at the end of each year to agree on how to share the L-band frequencies among them for the following year.
ESA is hosting the ORM for the first time. Edoardo Marelli, Head of the ESA Frequency Management Office, is chairing the meeting. "As is easy to imagine, these are very difficult meetings, with complex technical and political negotiations required in order to come to a commonly agreed optimised solution. Since these frequencies are used for commercial applications, their availability is a pre-requisite in making a successful business case."
"Unfortunately physical limits mean that not all requirements can be satisfied. But one way or another we have to reach an agreement on how to assign frequencies for 2006, the alternative being a lawless 'wild-west' situation with continuous communication interruptions due to radio interferences between operators. In such a situation, none of us would be able to guarantee any service to our customers."
All images ESA