Friday, April 26, 2013

FCC: Many Cubesats Need Experimental Licenses

The FCC has determined that many small satellite projects, such as university-built cubesats, do not really qualify for licensing under as amateur satellites and must instead apply for experimental licenses. According to the AMSAT News Service, these satellites would still be permitted to operate in amateur satellite spectrum. However, ANS says the International Amateur Radio Union's Satellite Advisory Panel is concerned that it may no longer be appropriate for it to serve as frequency coordinator for what the FCC now views as non-amateur satellites.

The FCC says many small satellite projects need
experimental licenses, not amateur licenses.
(Pictured here is Korea's OSSI-1, not under
FCC jurisdiction - courtesy AMSAT-UK)

The IARU is urging all national amateur radio societies to work with their telecommunications administrations to find alternative frequencies for experimental satellites and to get a permanent allocation for them onto the agenda for one of the next two World Radiocommunication Conferences, either WRC-15 or -18. In the US, AMSAT and the ARRL are working together with the FCC to find both short-term and long-term solutions to this situation. AMSAT points out that having university satellites under the amateur satellite umbrella has resulted in many benefits for both amateur radio and the universities involved.