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Radio transmitters for satellite systems

Radio transmitters for satellite systems mean transmitters in satellites and satellite earth stations. They are used for the communication between a satellite and an earth station, to command and control the satellite, to produce and transmit the satellite's payload data (for example images) from the satellite to earth, and updating satellite software, for instance. Radio transmitters for satellite systems also include GPS repeaters.

The use and possession of transmitters for satellite systems require a licence unless the terminals have specifically been exempted from licensing.

Frequencies allocated to satellites agreed internationally

Before issuing a radio licence, Traficom seeks approval for the frequencies intended for satellite system communications in accordance with the Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Traficom follows ITU’s coordination, notification and recording procedure to make sure that the frequencies intended for the satellite system do not interfere with other radio systems and they comply with ITU’s Radio Regulations and national frequency use. The ITU procedure is unnecessary if another state has already agreed on the use of frequencies for the satellite system and the licence application only concerns a satellite earth station. ITU recommends starting the procedure at least two years before the planned date of bringing the satellite into use.

In Finland, space activities require an authorisation by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment under the Act on Space Activities (63/2018).

Using amateur radio frequencies for satellite system

Using amateur frequencies for a satellite system must be coordinated with the Finnish Amateur Radio League (SRAL) and the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), in addition to the ITU procedure. Amateur radio frequencies may not be used for commercial purposes.

Earth stations

Transmitting earth stations in satellite systems require a radio licence if they are located in Finland and they have not been specifically exempted from licensing. In principle, the use of frequencies for an earth station must be agreed with any neighbouring countries before a radio licence may be issued for these frequencies and they can be taken into use. Earth stations located near airports are subject to some restrictions because of aviation safety.

Receiving earth stations

The use and possession of receive-only earth stations does not require a radio licence in Finland. This means that the reception of such earth stations is not protected against interference caused by other radio transmitters.

You can apply for protection for a receiving earth station. In such case, Traficom decides on the measures to protect an earth station at a fixed location against interference. In such case, the features and location of the earth station may need to meet certain conditions. In addition, taking earth station frequencies into use and protecting such frequencies may require international frequency coordination. The right for protection is granted for a fixed period, for example five years. The protection decision is subject to a charge in accordance with the Decree of the Ministry of Transport and Communications on administrative frequency fees (1028/2017).

Costs of spectrum management for satellite systems

The satellite operator bears the costs of ITU’s coordination and notification procedure. The costs depend on the features of the satellite system, for instance. In addition, Traficom collects a fee corresponding to the cost price for the ITU procedure and a frequency fee for the radio licence in accordance with the Decree of the Ministry of Transport and Communications on administrative frequency fees.

GPS repeaters

A GPS repeater is a combination of a radio receiver and transmitter, which is used to transmit GPS signals to, for example, an equipment facility or a civil defence shelter, where they normally cannot reach. GPS repeaters operate on the same frequency bands as GPS satellites. The repeaters amplify the GPS satellite signals below the noise level. Using a GPS repeater requires a radio licence. A radio licence may only be issued for transmitting a GPS signal indoors.

You can apply for a radio licence for a GPS repeater using the contact form (External link) (in Finnish).