Ofcom launches consultation over broadband connectivity for planes, ships and trains

UK communications regulator to consult over the proposed licensing of broadband services on board moving vehicles, including aircraft, ships and trains, via earth stations on mobile platforms

Ofcom launches consultation over broadband connectivity for planes, ships and trains

Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator, has begun consultation today (15 August 2013) over the use of earth stations on mobile platforms (ESOMPs) to provide broadband connectivity to passengers on aircraft, ships and trains.

The regulator noted that 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, Ofcom is proposing to introduce a regulatory framework to allow their use.

Ofcom is categorising ESOMPs into three different types:

  • 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).

It proposes to authorise all three types of ESOMP in UK territory that transmit in the following frequency bands:

  • 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).

Ofcom points out that 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 the 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.

Ofcom is inviting stakeholders to provide feedback to the consultation document. The deadline to submit responses to us is 5pm on 10 October 2013.

The regulator expects to release a statement on this consultation in December 2013 having taken into account stakeholder responses to its proposals. Subject to the responses, it plans to make licensing available for aircraft and ship mounted ESOMPs early in 2014.

Subject to the responses, it also plan to publish a notice on amendments to the Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) Regulations early in 2014, which will include the implementation of its proposals to exempt land-based ESOMPs from the need to have a Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 licence.

The full document entitled Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms: Consultation on the authorisation of Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms is available here.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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