Work on the project started in September 2012, and the outputs of were completed in October 2013.
The study has identified characteristics of Satcom that give it strengths in relation to sustainable development (SD): its coverage; the relatively low infrastructure needs; and its ability to complement terrestrial networks in remote locations. Overall, SD presents opportunities for Satcom rather than threats, although threats exist if impacts are not effectively measured and managed.
Areas of greatest impact from Satcom are the materials, energy consumed and volumes of waste arising from set top boxes. The design of broadcast systems, and of much current Satcom hardware, could be improved to reduce energy, emissions and other impacts – issues that are similar to of many of the SD issues facing the wider ICT. Satcom should therefore engage with ICT sector activities, as well as with governments and other public-interest bodies that drive the pursuit of many SD goals.
It is recommended that the Satcom sector requires a strategy to guide its engagement in SD issues. This should aim to appropriately prioritise the Satcom sector’s efforts with respect to addressing SD are (based on a shared understanding of the sector’s impacts), and to support the best possible exploitation of the opportunities that SD offers Satcom.
In order to achieve these aims three broad actions are recommended:
i. Maintain an overview of SD policies and trends.
ii. Engage with wider ICT SD initiatives to ensure these accommodate the key opportunities for, and do not discriminate against, Satcom.
iii. Maintain up-to-date measures of the Satcom sector’s SD performance to anticipate threats and opportunities.
Dissemination of this study’s results to relevant stakeholders needs to build on an awareness of the extent of SD knowledge within the Satcom sector. Similarities with ICT mean it makes sense for the Satcom industry to become more involved with ICT related SD.