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Ofcom Consult on Faster Satellite Broadband for UK Aircraft, Ships and Trains

Thursday, Aug 15th, 2013 (11:24 am) - Score 481

The UK telecoms regulator has begun a fresh consultation to support the introduction of a regulatory framework for a new generation of faster Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms (ESOMPs), which typically provide broadband internet access to moving vehicles.

Several Satellite operators are about to launch a new generation of commercial spacecraft into orbit around the Earth (2013/14), which will use the latest ESOMP technology and send their signals via the 27.5-30GHz (transmit) and 17.3-20.2GHz (receive) frequency bands.

The higher frequencies can provide more bandwidth than existing systems and should thus support “significantly faster internet connections“, which would be ideal for aircraft, trains and ships that want to offer on-board broadband connectivity. Existing services can be quite slow, especially when shared between many users.

At present the related bands are not used by terrestrial radio systems in the United Kingdom and are already available for other types of satellite earth stations, such as Permanent Earth Stations and High Density Fixed Satellite Services (HDFSS).

Never the less Ofcom proposes to authorise all the related bands for use by ESOMP in UK territory. But the regulator has also identified that ESOMP devices receiving in the 17.3-20.2GHz spectrum might suffer interferencefrom 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.

Ofcom’s new consultation will be open for responses until 10th October 2013 and a decision should then be outlined in December 2013. Licensing could then be available for aircraft and ship mounted ESOMPs during early 2014.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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