Access Alert: The road for land ESIMs remains unpaved

Access Alert: The road for land ESIMs remains unpaved

With WRC-23 ending a week ago and the final Resolutions still being numbered, Earth Stations in Motion (ESIMs) have been one of the key topics. The growing presence of ESIMs as the enabler of connectivity in several daily applications is evident. Solutions include in-flight connectivity while flying over oceans, increasing the efficiency and safety of operations, and supporting industrial operations such as mining. Crucially, ESIMs also allow critical operations performed by humanitarian groups, the military, and first responders and rescuers during emergencies, as well as enabling real-life monitoring and controlling of industrial services.

Within this context, the decisions that will soon form an official part of the Radio Regulations regarding operations of ESIMs are a welcome additional step towards the harmonisation of the technical rules needed to make all ESIM operations a reality. They include decisions in the Ka and Ku bands connecting with geostationary satellites, as well as in the Ka band connecting with non-geostationary satellites.

Despite this progress, land ESIMs remain largely unregulated (or more accurately, unaddressed) by regulatory frameworks. It is more difficult to obtain market access worldwide precisely because of the lack of harmonised decisions. In the 20+ years that regulations and ITU decisions around ESIMs have been evolving,[1] land ESIMs are still not expressly addressed. Administrations around the world still do not have clear rules around the licensing of such solutions, while ESIMs on aircraft and vessels have clearer rules and simplified licensing procedures in several jurisdictions.

While it is true that regulations at the domestic level still need to be improved globally to massify best practices and streamline procedures or exemptions, the road for land ESIMs is still largely unpaved. Some regional decisions have been made, mainly in Europe,[2] but harmonised parameters or best practices that can be applied worldwide are lacking.

The day that ESIMs can be included in every car – many aircraft are currently being equipped by default – is getting closer. Several humanitarian, military, and medical vehicles already include them. Moreover, some IoT solutions and applications of the ubiquitous connectivity we expect in our daily lives, including tracking our gift packages or supporting critical industrial applications, use land ESIMs.

The technical elements that have previously created challenges around land ESIMs (namely, potential interferences with terrestrial services) need to be studied and regulated to make the use cases and applications a widespread reality.

To learn more about this topic or stay informed about the latest developments regarding market access and connectivity issues, please contact Carolina Daza at [email protected] or Juliana Ramirez at [email protected], from Access Partnership’s Market Access team.

[1] Going back to Resolution 216 (Rev. WRC-2000).
[2] With ECC/DEC/(18)04,  ECC/DEC/(15)04, ECC/DEC/(13)01, and ECC/DEC/(18)05.

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