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AsiaSat seeks collaborative efforts to implement measures protecting existing satellite services against interference from future 5G networks

14 June 2018

Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited has responded to the Communications Authority (CA)’s decision to reallocate the 3.4 - 3.7 GHz band, the lower C-Band frequency in Hong Kong, from FSS (satellite) to mobile service (5G) and the subsequent proposal of two exclusion zones as a potential solution.

In the responses, AsiaSat shared the fact that the C-band’s use in satellite communications is the major frequency for connecting Hong Kong’s teleports to other continents, creating a hub for telecommunication services in the international market built three decades ago. The C-band provides a variety of services including contribution and distribution of TV services, broadcasting data and information such as meteorological data and maritime/aeronautical related safety. In Hong Kong alone the band has significant historical importance, bringing television events from the Olympic Games to the Hong Kong Handover ceremony. C-band provides the city with coverage of breaking international news and live sports, from premier sports leagues, tournaments, international athletic games, to motor-racing and world summits, like the Belt and Road Forum. More crucially, C-band is used for disaster relief and emergency communications services.

AsiaSat stands by the claim that the reallocation of the C-band will significantly limit Hong Kong and Greater China’s satellite operators’ ability to control and monitor their satellite fleet and earth stations, thereby affecting many of the essential services currently delivered via satellite with the potential risk of interference from mobile service. CA’s suggestion of two exclusion zones has also raised serious concerns due to the high risk imposed from terrestrial mobile communication interference. Links for safe operation and monitoring of the satellites, which is an international obligation under the UN Outer Space Treaty, may be lost, possibly causing loss of service and impacting agreements. There are further difficulties in Hong Kong with the numerous satellite TV receptions mounted on buildings, involving some 1,600 C-band SMATV systems, 900,000 outlets that would need re-adjusting, before even considering the international consequence.

AsiaSat recommends looking at different mitigation measures to reduce the interference by mobile operators to satellite services, and to find options beyond the initial proposals. Mobile operators should fully consider more available technical measures to minimize their interference with preexisting satellite services. Regulating the transmitting power of mobile stations is one fair way to reduce interference, and more answers could be found by studying other mitigation proposals in collaboration with the telecommunication industry. Costs involved in these mitigation measures should not however, be imposed on the satellite operators and customers who have used the Cband for decades.

AsiaSat’s CEO, Dr. Roger Tong, had thoughts on the issue, “We strongly request the Communications Authority to set a level playing field for all telecom operators, to properly consult the affected satellite operators and consumers. Hong Kong also seeks further consultations to define reasonable arrangement in this area, and request that mobile operators implement measures to prevent interference to the existing satellite TT&C/monitoring earth stations and SMATV operations when deploying future 5G networks. If allowing the reallocation without due concern for existing satellite usage, the CA will be affecting services provided by us to the entire Asia-Pacific region, and the world.”

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