CHAPTER 5

KEY POLICY AND REGULATORY ISSUES

INTRODUCTION

This global survey revealed that the visited countries are pursuing broadly different strategies with respect to their overall telecommunications and information policies and that this diversity of approach is reflected in satellite telecommunications as well. In some respects, the policies and strategic objectives of Japan and Korea appear to be most clearly defined. India, with a narrower focus on its national satellite telecommunications needs, has set very clear goals for its future development as well. The Japanese Vision 21 paper on that nation's future objectives for telecommunications and satellite communications into the next century is a particularly impressive accomplishment (MPT 1997).

In Canada and the United States, the key governmental agencies appear much more content to let industry define on a decentralized basis objectives for the future, even though there are key longer term space communications technologies being pursued by federal agencies. In general, NASA's broad goal in satellite communications is to develop future satellite technologies and systems to support broadband multimedia applications via fixed and mobile satellite networks. NASA seems headed toward converting some of its space operations to communications services, particularly with regard to the tracking and data relay satellite system (TDRSS).

In Europe, the patterns appear to be at their most complex. The objectives of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Council on European Posts and Telecommunications (CEPT), and the European Union are not closely meshed. Given the fact that different nations, different personnel, and different research and operational programs are involved with these four diverse entities this does not seem surprising. The EU participates in some ESA programs and vice versa. CEPT and ETSI are quite separate. Overlaying this regional organizational complexity is the fact that several countries such as France, Italy, Germany and Spain are actively involved in the implementation of national space communications programs, in addition to their ongoing support for the European Space Agency. In light of the modest funds available for space communications research this divergence into national development programs (which national officials described as better, cheaper and faster) must be of serious concern to ESA's future programs in this field.

A number of national space communications programs are clearly oriented toward the maximum opportunity to engage in new international programs and seek to benefit where possible with useful technology transfer. The most active country in pursuing this technology transfer approach in the field of satellite communications (and other space applications for that matter) is Korea. There, over a dozen international cooperative commercial projects in satellite communications are currently underway, involving some eight industrial groups. There is certainly parallel interest in seeking more involvement in international projects (with or without active technology transfer), as shown by Canada, Israel, Italy, and Russia. Other countries have, in contrast, largely defined their future space communications programs on the basis of a good measure of national independence. These include Brazil, China, France, and India.

It is clear that Matra Marconi, which as a multi-national corporation is somewhat orthogonal to national French objectives, is intent on becoming the predominant and most integrated "European" aerospace manufacturer with key divisions and plants in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, and with other strong alliances throughout Europe.

It is impossible to set forth here in detail all of the issues with regard to competition, trade, standards, spectrum and frequency, essential space services for public funded programs, institutional issues and progress on their reform and modification, industrial patterns of change, technology transfer, and the proper role of government in future space communications development. Nevertheless the following sections attempt to highlight key findings and observations with respect to these matters.

Competition in Global Satellite Markets

The research and site visits undertaken in this study suggest that satellite markets in China, India and Brazil will be strongly controlled by governmental policies and opened to competition both slowly and carefully. Markets in Japan and Korea will be more open, but will likely still be strongly influenced by governmental industrial policies. In Europe, the European Commission in Brussels will strongly promote open competitive markets, but clearly certain markets, especially that of France, will be influenced by national developmental programs like STENTOR and steered by national industrial policies as well.

In general, the global trend to open all telecommunications markets, including satellite communications, will continue, but barriers and obstacles such as restrictive allocations of new frequencies and landing rights, resistance to new spectrum allocations for low earth orbit (LEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite services, and constraints related to national licensing of terminal equipment to operate with satellite systems will all remain constraints to free and open global markets. The voluntarily agreed plans to open national markets up to international competition as presented by countries like Korea have major loopholes that will slow new market entry by international entities. (See next sub-section.)

International Trade

The World Trade Organization's Telecommunications Pact, which extends the General Agreement on Trade in Services to a broad range of telephone and data services, is a clear breakthrough in opening international trade in this area. The sixty-nine nations that have committed to this pact represent a very significant portion of total global telecommunications trade (nearly 90%).

The trading provisions are voluntarily declared by participants, however, and in some cases the opening of international trade is carefully circumscribed and requires transitional periods and high degrees of domestic participation and ownership of new competitive carriers. Further, the enforcement procedures have various degrees of loop holes. Nevertheless this pact creates a strong initial base from which further improvements can be made, and higher levels of consistency from country to country can be sought. Nations that did not participate in the pact will likely feel increased economic pressure to join in this agreement. Of the surveyed countries in this study all of Europe, Canada, the United States, India, Israel, and Korea are participating while Brazil, China, Russia and the Ukraine are not at this time, even though China is actively seeking to participate over current U.S. objections.


Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian