The last few years has seen increasing interest in the use of Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms (ESOMPs) for providing broadband connectivity to passengers on board moving vehicles, including aircraft, ships and trains. Several satellite operators are planning to launch commercial satellite networks in 2013/2014 that support the use of ESOMPs transmitting in the frequency band 27.5 30 GHz and receiving in the band 17.3 20.2 GHz. To facilitate the take up of these new innovative services, we are proposing to introduce a regulatory framework to allow their use.
For the purpose of this consultation, we categorise ESOMPs into three different types as follows:
- aircraft-mounted ESOMP earth station mounted on an aircraft;
- ship-mounted ESOMP earth station mounted on a ship/vessel;
- land-based ESOMP earth station mounted on a land-based vehicle (for example a train or coach).
We propose to authorise all three types of ESOMP in UK territory that transmit in the frequency bands shown below:
- 27.5 27.8185 GHz;
- 28.4545 28.8265 GHz;
- 29.4625 30 GHz.
These bands are not used by terrestrial radio systems in the UK and are already available for other types of satellite earth stations, including Permanent Earth Stations and High Density Fixed Satellite Service (HDFSS).
ESOMP equipment receiving in the spectrum 17.3 20.2 GHz may operate at the risk of experiencing interference from other radio users.
The key proposals for consultation are:
- Radio equipment for land-based ESOMPs should be exempted from the need to have a Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 licence;
- Radio equipment for aircraft and ship mounted ESOMPs should be licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 rather than licence-exempt;
- Licensing of aircraft-mounted ESOMPs should be done through variation of the Aircraft Radio licence issued on Ofcom’s behalf by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with no additional fee;
- Licensing of ship-mounted ESOMPs should be done through variation of the Ship Radio licence with no additional fee.
We welcome stakeholder feedback to this consultation document. The deadline to submit responses to us is 5pm on 10 October 2013. Information on Ofcom’s consultation principles and how to respond to this consultation is provided in Annexes 1 to 3.
We expect to release a Statement on this consultation in December 2013 having taken into account stakeholder responses to our proposals. Subject to the responses, we plan to make licensing available for aircraft and ship mounted ESOMPs early in 2014. Subject to the responses, we also plan to publish a notice on amendments to the Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) Regulations early in 2014 which will include the implementation of our proposals to exempt land-based ESOMPs from the need to have a Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 licence.