International Institute of Space Law

Article

Mitigation of Anti-Competitive Behaviour in Telecommunication Satellite Orbits and Management of Natural Monopolies

Keywords anti-competitive conduct, constellation satellites, monopoly
Authors Thomas Green, Patrick Neumann en Kent Grey
Author's information

Thomas Green
(Corresponding author), Neumann Space Pty Ltd, 1/41 Wood Avenue, Brompton 5007 South Australia, tom@neumannspace.com.

Patrick Neumann
Neumann Space Pty Ltd, 1/41 Wood Avenue, Brompton 5007 South Australia.

Kent Grey
b Partner, Minter Ellison, 25 Grenfell Street, Adelaide 5000 Australia, kent.grey@minterellison.com.
  • Abstract

      Previous activities in developing satellite networks for telecommunications such as the TelStar, Relay and Syncom satellite networks of the early 1960s through to the Iridium, Globalstar and ORBCOMM constellations of the 1990s were reserved to geostationary orbits and low orbits with less than 100 satellites comprising their network. These satellite networks distinguished themselves by being business-to-government and business-tobusiness facing by contracting with government and domestic carriage and media providers for the supply of services. Customers for these services did not constitute either small to medium sized businesses, or individuals in the general public.
      With the advent of what has been dubbed ‘NewSpace’, however, new entrants into the market are developing constellation satellite networks that operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Unlike the legacy satellite telecommunication networks of the 1960s-1990s, these constellation satellite networks are focused on, amongst other things, Internet of Things (IOT) devices, asset management and tracking, Wi-Fi hot-spotting, backhaul networking and contracting with small businesses and the general public.
      Regional examples of these new telecommunication heavyweights include Fleet Space Technologies (Fleet) - an Australian company undertaking to launch 100 satellites into LEO, Sky and Space Global (SAS) - an Australian-British-Israeli consortium that intends to provide a constellation of 200 small satellites, OneWeb’s planned fleet of 650 satellites that may be expanded to 2,000 satellites, and, SpaceX’s planned StarLink network of 12,000 satellites. In addition, companies such as Spire and PlanetLabs intend to provide geospatial information through their own constellation networks to government and educational institutions alongside the private sector.
      Although propertisation of space and celestial bodies is prohibited under the Outer Space Treaty 1967 (UN), near-Earth orbits still remain rivalrous and commercially lucrative. By operating in a LEO environment, these satellite constellation networks have the potential to exclude competing services by new entrants to market. For example, where one constellation network has an orbital plane or orbital shell, another constellation may not be able to have the same orbital plane or orbital shell.
      Presently, the literature to date focuses on the allocation of spectrum bandwidth, and space traffic management with a focus on orbital debris mitigation. This paper addresses these concerns and offers recommendations on how the risk of ‘natural’ monopolies forming for specific constellation satellite networks in LEO may be mitigated under instruments available to both UNOOSA and the ITU.

Please sign in to access the article



Did you receive an activation code but no access yet? Please activate your code here.

Forgot your password? Request new password.

Purchase access

You can purchase online access to this article. You will receive 24 hrs access @ € 17,50 (excl. VAT).

24 hrs access € 17,50 (excl. VAT)

Activate your code

If you have an access code, please activate it here.