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Issue 5: Critical Perspectives

Strengthening Access to Communications Policy & Regulatory Guidelines for Satellite Services

David Hartshorn, Global VSAT Forum

A close examination of this edition of the Online Journal of Space Communications highlights the fact that the global satellite industry's dynamism - its vital signs - stand in stark contrast to the performance of other telecom sectors: On balance, enterprise-sector satellite service and system sales are recording positive growth in selected markets. Predictably, there are notable exceptions. But at the other extreme there have been notable successes.

A GVF consultant Member recorded that more than 10% of all broadband traffic is now provided via satellite. One GVF manufacturer Member reported that its revenues increased by 50 percent in the past year, much of which was attributable to demand for satellite broadband systems. And a GVF carrier Member said demand for broadband services - in this case 512- Kbps - 2 Mbps - generated satellite-based revenue gains of 40% during the past year, a growth rate that was a repeat of 2002.

Is this to suggest that the global satellite communications industry has a clean bill of health? Certainly not. The economic times are tough. And the industry's most chronic ailments - regulatory barriers and insufficient awareness of the advantages afforded by satellite services - remain to be fully addressed.

That's why, in spite of recent economic challenges, the industry's commitment to and participation in the GVF has never been stronger. Members worldwide are using the association as a cure, a means of not only elevating their promotional profile, but also facilitating expanded access to markets and cutting costs through improved regulations.

To continue the medical analogy, GVF medicine is being applied worldwide… sometimes in strong doses. The most recent example is the accompanying document, a regulatory and policy guideline released this month by the GVF to assist governments on a national, regional and global level to promote expanded access to satellite-based systems and services.

This work is designed to help bridge the "Regulatory Divide" that continues to thwart end users' efforts to obtain affordable communications. From tele-medicine to distance learning to rural telecenters to disaster recovery to enterprise networks, the satellite industry is offering not only telecommunications solutions for the "have nots", but also the regulatory tools to enable the public sector to fulfil their policy objectives.

View full paper (PDF, 304 KB)


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