With satellite filing, NCC redefines regulatory compliance

As a regulatory agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, have a well-functioning office that provides the required technical and administrative support to its decision making, bringing out background, key issues, possible options for addressing the issues and proposed recommendations. All cases put before the regulatory authority/agency for consideration, deliberations and decisions, or on which it has to take a stand, are usually prepared with due diligence by the office.

At the  commission’s oval office, authorities are delegated based on the areas of work to be handled, with divisional heads designated as directors, and are required to report to the Executive Secretary or Chief Executive, who would also coordinate the activities that are multidisciplinary in nature, or requiring attention of more than one division. He is responsible for the office administration, personnel matters, budgeting, finance, discipline, and other matters, to ensure the efficient operation of the regulatory body’s office. The Federal Ministry of Communications is the administration of Nigeria that interfaces with the ITU on Filing and coordination matters. The NCC interfaces between the applying entity and the ministry.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, spectrum and associated orbital slots are valuable and limited resources. It is in very high demand for satellites and other services like mobile and broadband technologies competing for it. Therefore, orbital slots from which commercially attractive markets can be served are becoming increasingly congested. As a result, there is need to manage efficiency of use in order not to hinder competition, innovation and growth to avoid interference, ensuring adequate separation between satellites.

In Nigeria, the procedures for Management of Satellite filings” has gone through Stakeholders consultation and public enquiry. So far, it outlines procedures to be taken by companies in Nigeria wishing to submit applications to ITU through Nigeria for processing of satellite filings.  It covers also details for coordination and registration to achieve international recognition.  It describes roles and responsibilities of the NCC and the operator applying for the service, for Coordination.

The NCA confers spectrum management functions for the communications sector on the Commission and this includes the maintenance of records with respect to the use of the electromagnetic spectrum for wireless telegraphy at places within and outside Nigeria. NCC is required to decide whether to process an application for a satellite network filing based on the criteria set out in sections 4.4 to 4.9 of the Satellite Management Filing procedures for further processing with ITU through the present country Administration (MOIC).

ITU and satellite filing

Satellite like any other wireless technology does not respect borders. Unlike the other wireless technologies however, Satellite has an international outlook as it transcends many geographies. Therefore, coordination is done within the framework administered by the international Telecommunications Union, ITU. According to the international organization, two mechanisms for the sharing of orbit and spectrum resources for satellite applications have been adopted and implemented

A priori planning procedures which guarantees equitable access to orbit / spectrum resources for future use. According to the NCC, coordination procedures entail an obligatory negotiation process between administrations, to achieve efficiency of use through controlled interference environment.

Coordination and filing

Same filing is applicable for the geostationary earth observation satellites, GEOs and non geostationary earth observation satellites. GEOs take precedence and are protected from interference from Non GEOs.  According to the commission, the “International rights and obligation of administrations in respect of own and other administrations frequency assignments shall be derived from the recording of those assignment in the Master International Frequency Register or their conformity, where appropriate with a plan.” These are subject to the provisions of the Radio Regulations and those of any relevant frequency allotment or assignment plan

Planned and non-planned bands

Assignments on a non-planned band results from processing of application by operators for assignment in a given band, with specified coverage and a particular orbital slot. Such applications are processed on a first-come-first –served basis. In the planned bands, equitable access to spectrum and orbital slots is guaranteed by a priori planning. This may be by an allotment plan, in which case particular channel, orbital location, technical characteristics and given service area is allotted per administration.

According to the commission, applications and all related correspondence for satellite networks in planned and non-planned bands are required to be submitted by the applicant to NCC in electronic format, where possible, and in accordance with the format required by the ITU Space Services software.

Applicants must establish, that they have the required technical, financial and legal credentials to construct, launch and operate the proposed satellite system in conformity with their business plan .The applicant must be a company or organization registered, or having its headquarters, in Nigeria .The applicant must meet all relevant costs incurred by NCC and the ITU in the processing and coordination of the satellite network filing(s).

The ITU Resolution 49 requires national administrations to make submissions to the ITU in respect of the construction and launch (including timings) of its satellite networks. In addition to the requirements of Resolution 49, NCC requires to receive commercial information from applicants for the purposes of due diligence to satisfy that a proposed satellite network has an adequate financial backing, that all relevant commercial and other contracts are in place or are about to be entered into and that there is a reasonable probability that the network will be brought into operation


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