Access Alert: Colombia opens consultation on updates to the satellite licensing regime

Access Alert: Colombia opens consultation on updates to the satellite licensing regime

On 3 February 2022, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT Ministry) issued Resolution 0376, establishing a new regime for satellite services. Significant reforms to modernise the framework for satellite services in the country were included, while fees are no longer tied to the used bandwidth and landing rights requirement were abolished. The regulation also included the possibility of blanket licensing for ESIM and expressly exempted reception only earth stations from licensing, all aligned with international best practices.

Recently, MinTIC published a consultation (open until 17 October) focusing on the need to provide further guarantees for the operation of satellite earth stations adjacent to IMT allocated bands. Overall, these measures are proposed within the context of the anticipated C Band spectrum auction (also known as the 5G auction) to ensure no harmful interference takes place between the satellite and mobile services.

Still, the opportunity to strengthen the regulatory framework for the provision of satellite services and to move further towards a more straightforward regulatory regime must not be missed. Therefore, Colombia should also consider as part of the modifications that are taking place, simpler technical forms and the incorporation of a specific provision allowing for the provision of Inflight Connectivity (operation of aero ESIM, or aircraft earth stations AES) on board foreign registered aircraft, to be exempted from licensing, following international best practices. As defined in the ITU’s Radio Regulations (article 18.1) and the Chicago Convention (article 30), transmitting radio stations are licensed where they are located and, for an aircraft, the jurisdiction of registration is the one responsible for licensing the radio apparatus installed on it.

Therefore, ESIM on aircraft already licensed in a country, temporary visiting another one, should be exempted from licensing in the visited jurisdiction, or at least, be subjected to a simpler regime. This practice is implemented throughout the World, and particularly in neighbouring jurisdictions in the Americas. The Inflight Connectivity market is expected to reach USD 968.8 million by 2032 and passengers are increasingly expecting Wi-Fi access to be part of their travelling experience, with seamless connectivity. Therefore, the country should seize the opportunity to remain at the forefront of the regulations in the region, with the notable advancements made in the last five years, and remove unnecessary burdens to allow the maximisation of the social and economic well-being, which is a legal mandate in the Nation (article 2(5) and 11(3) of the Telecommunications Law).

Access Partnership works closely with members of the space and satellite industry, obtaining market access for the provision of services, as well as providing key analyses on how policies and initiatives affect their business. For more information, please contact Carolina Daza at [email protected] or Juliana Ramirez at [email protected].

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