Satellite associations aim to protect the industry’s interests, but which battles are they prioritizing? Across different regions of the world, associations are looking at ways in which they promote satellite solutions and make sure satellite still plays a key role despite the proliferation of other communications technologies.
Satellite associations have evolved dramatically in recent years — becoming increasingly vocal and visible in the public policy arena, driven, in large part, by the explosive growth of the cellular industry. Faced with global issues such as satellite interference, signal piracy and the need to respond to the scramble for more spectrum to fuel broadband demand, more and more satellite-industry associations are finding strength in numbers.
“We are finding that there are more issues where we have common interests,” says Patricia Cooper, president of the U.S.-based Satellite Industry Association (SIA), which provides a unified voice of the U.S. satellite industry on policy, regulatory and legislative issues affecting the satellite manufacturing, launch and services business.
Much of Cooper’s time is spent educating policy officials in Washington on the industry and why satellite is an important piece of the communications policy puzzle. She also advocates for policies that reflect the concerns of the satellite industry. In her four years at the helm of SIA, Cooper has seen more exchanges of information among satellite and space associations, and an increasing support between groups for specific advocacy work.
The most dramatic example of these collaborative efforts came in December, when virtually the entire global satellite community voiced their opposition to a proposed new global space financing protocol known as UNIDROIT. According to Cooper, an unprecedented 100 satellite stakeholders, from satellite manufacturing, operators, banking and insurance sectors, publicly opposed the protocol. Unfortunately, the UNIDROIT organization adopted the protocol in early March, despite the concerns of industry and several member governments, including the United States.
One of six satellite industry associations to denounce the program was Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA). Simon Twiston-Davies, CEO, CASBAA, says the legislation’s passage without any barriers imposed to it “will have a huge impact on the private financing of the satellite sector. It’s very dangerous for the financing of our industry.”
The European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), which represents the interests of Europe’s 10 major satellite operators, was also vocal on the UNIDROIT issue and other issues that reflect the common interest of the industry. One of its top three priorities this year is preserving a neutral financial environment in which satellite operators can function.
“The challenges faced by the sector are often also common in other parts of the world; therefore, cooperation with other associations is essential,” says Aarti Holla-Maini, secretary general for ESOA.