From the Canadian and U.S. Arctic to the Panamanian and Caribbean tropics, the region of North America spans extreme variances not only in weather and geography but also in economics, politics and culture. Accordingly, the considerations given to the formulation of communications policies from one North American nation to the next are continuously challenged as they seek to strike a balance between regional harmonization on the one hand and local tailored approaches on the other.
The primary regional forum where North and South American administrations work to strike this delicate balance is the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL). As part of the Organization of American States (OAS), CITEL’s goal is to coordinate telecommunications mandates of the OAS. North American administrations’ efforts are coordinated throughout the entire Americas region and, at the global level, through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), where the Americas are represented as “Region 2”.
In this context, innovative and effective satellite policy and regulatory approaches have been pioneered in North American nations, and these successful practices are increasingly being adopted by other administrations in the CITEL region and, indeed, throughout the world. Blanket licensing of satellite communications earth stations is a prime example, enabling efficient and cost-effective deployment of millions of satellite-based broadband terminals for consumers and enterprises alike.
Coordination of satellite spectrum is another example. The above-noted broadband solutions are currently serving North American mass markets – regardless of geographic constraints and proximity to urban centers – through the allocation of satellite bands such as the L-band, the C-band, the Ku-Band, the Ka-Band and, increasingly for the future, the Q and V Bands.
However, with the wide variances in local operating conditions from one North American nation to the next come different use cases for satellite spectrum. While the lower frequency and highly resilient C-band (3.6 – 4.2 GHz) is indispensable for satellite communications in countries where there are high rainfall patterns, nations with more temperate climates are able to rely more on higher frequencies (e.g. Ku, Ka, Q and V) for the same or for similar services. Likewise, enterprises throughout North America depend upon C-band satellite for high-reliability applications, such as broadcasting, air traffic control, disaster preparedness, and more. Giving careful consideration to such diverse factors is central to North America’s spectrum, regulatory and policy deliberations.
The world’s most extensive jungles, the world’s largest river system, the world’s newest region for human settlement… these are just a few of the superlatives for South America. Comprising 12 nations and three dependent territories, anyone who has travelled to Tierra del Fuego – the region’s southernmost tip – will know that South America’s 7,149 km length is matched only by the scale of her mountains, of her deserts… and of her stakeholders’ ambition to provide ubiquitous access to communications.
Accordingly, innovative approaches to satellite-based rural, sub-urban and urban broadband programs have accompanied synergistic deployments of fiber, wireless and other telecom tools as part of a robust eco-system designed to achieve South American nations’ shared desire for universal connectivity.
One of the pillars of South America’s success has been local administrations’ willingness to evaluate successful regulatory, policy and spectrum coordination practices from throughout the world and to customize and apply them to address local operating conditions. Given the scale of South America’s connectivity challenge, this is a story that is still being written.
Right now, South American stakeholders are rolling out unprecedented numbers of high-throughput satellite services – both for consumer and for enterprise services – in support of 2G, 3G, 4G and, soon, 5G wireless networks, as well as for extension of first, middle and last-mile links. From broadcasting to telecoms, all of these gains are being facilitated by the implementation of “light-touch” regulation and critical decisions regarding the most effective use of satellite spectrum, including the L-band, C-band, Ku-band, and Ka-band, as well as Q and V bands for future services.
South American leadership and lessons learned in optimizing spectrum, regulatory and policy decisions are also evident globally. Efforts made by the region’s administrations at the local level will be reflected during the International Telecommunication Union’s World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 where the stage will be set for the next chapter in South America’s account of connectivity.