Starting on August 1, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) will follow revised guidelines for satellite frequency coordination. Educational satellite projects have grown in popularity as launch opportunities have increased. These satellites, constructed by students at universities and other institutions, generally have been licensed to operate in the Amateur-Satellite Service, which the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations define as having the “purpose of self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations carried out by amateurs…interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.”
“The strong preference is for all satellites using spectrum allocated to the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite services to operate under amateur licenses and within the definition of the Amateur-Satellite service and the service-specific Article 25 of the Radio Regulations,” IARU said in announcing the change. “The IARU believes the definition is sufficiently broad to encompass nearly all educational satellite projects that include giving students hands-on experience with radiocommunication and are conducted under an amateur license.”
Some administrations have issued experimental licenses for such satellites operating in Amateur-Satellite Service bands. The IARU has coordinated these satellites as well, to reduce the possibility of harmful interference that might result from uncoordinated operation. Since July 1, 2014, however, it has not been possible to coordinate experimental satellites in the 144-146 MHz band, because of the high probability of harmful interference in this heavily used band.
IARU will continue to coordinate satellites with combined amateur and non-amateur missions. It will only coordinate a non-amateur satellite if an administration directs in writing that it be operated in an Amateur-Satellite band under an experimental or other non-amateur license.
The new guidelines bring IARU’s satellite coordination policies into line with Resolution 659 at World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15). The resolution noted that the use of 144-146 MHz and 435-438 MHz by non-amateur satellites was not in accordance with the definition of the Amateur-Satellite service in the Radio Regulations. Resolution 659 made clear that the spectrum needs of what are now called “non-geostationary satellites with short duration missions” should be met either within the service in which the space station is operating, or within the Space Operation Service. If new or upgraded allocations to the Space Operation Service are needed, studies should be limited to the frequency ranges 150.05-174 MHz and 400.15-420 MHz, IARU said.
WRC-19 has been invited to consider steps to facilitate the deployment and operation of nanosatellites and picosatellites. Such satellites generally must use spectrum below 1 GHz for operational reasons.
A global federation of national associations of radio amateurs in more than 150 countries, IARU has provided complimentary frequency coordination services for amateur satellites for many years.