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  • Deriving more ‘Common Benefit’ from Space Telecommunications.

    Paper number



    Prof. Dr. Francis Lyall, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom



    There is a good case that the use of satellites for international and domestic telecommunications is the major avenue through which the ‘common benefit’ concept of Art. I of the Outer Space Treaty and its reaffirmation in UN A/RES/51/122 of 4 February 1997 is complied with.  However, that benefit could be increased, and expanded beyond the realm of access to telecommunications services to provide a more directly financial element that can be distributed and/or used.  This paper will explores some possibilities and make some suggestions.
    	Others have already suggested that Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 could be looked to as a model.  ‘The Area’, whose use and exploitation is regulated by the Authority, can certainly be presented as an analogue to space, but we are a long way from a Space Authority.  However, in relation to space telecommunications – one particular use of space, it might be that the ITU could serve as such an Authority for limited purposes.
    	But the question is, can we envisage any ‘benefit’ additional to what we already get from the ITU system?  There are possibilities.  One is the extension of the ITU role to a more active participation in the deployment of satellites – the ITU as a global FCC.  A second is the collection of a ‘resource allocation fee’.  The author has already argued for both.  The new suggestions to be put forward in this paper are twofold.  First that such a resource allocation fee could be required as an annual rather than a one-off payment.  Suggestions made in order to solve the problems of the ‘paper satellite’ phenomenon provide models on which such a fee might be calculated.  Second, the ITU could be authorised to conduct auctions of spectrum band-width and of orbital slots.  Spectrum auctions have been used inter alia by the US, the UK and Australia for a number of years and experience shows such a system works.
    	The radio spectrum and the geostationary orbit are recognised in law as scarce resources.  Their use should (?should) produce tangible financial benefit for all, particularly for the less space-competent nations, and distributed through the ITU Development Sector.  
    	These suggestions would achieve a better distribution of the ‘common benefit’ from space telecommunications.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-05-E6.5.05.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.