File photo: Artists rendering of the Sapphire satellite. Credit: MDA.

ISED Begins Consultation on the Licensing Framework for Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) Systems [Updated]

Today the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) posted notice that it is beginning a consultation process on the Licensing Framework for Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) Systems and clarification of application procedures for all satellite licence applications. After the consultation, which has no set time frame, ISED will release updated documents for the Policy Framework for Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) and Broadcasting-Satellite Service (BSS) and Licensing of Space Stations.

The following is from the notice posted today.


In January 2014, ISED introduced new licensing rules for satellites. This included revisions to the existing procedures for first come, first served (FCFS) licensing, the application of FCFS licensing to fixed- and broadcasting-satellite services (FSS and BSS), and the introduction of spectrum licences to authorize FSS and BSS satellite frequencies. This updated framework was followed in April 2016 with the implementation of a new spectrum licence fee for FSS/BSS spectrum. The purpose of these changes was to establish a modern, attractive licensing regime that is comparable to those in similar countries. The consultation that led to these changes was undertaken before the re-emergence of large NGSO constellations for fixed-satellite services. Although the existing licensing rules apply to NGSO systems, they were not developed for the types of commercial “mega” constellations that are now being proposed and developed.

On June 15, 2016, ISED imposed a moratorium on the licensing of commercial NGSO systems to allow the Department to review the current framework. The review examined whether the Department’s licensing rules and obligations, as applied to NGSO systems, are appropriate and whether Canadian coverage and capacity needs will be met by Canadian-licensed systems.


1. The purpose of this consultation is to seek comments on proposed changes to the licensing rules for non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems.

2. In this document, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED or the Department) is seeking comments on the following elements of the licensing policy and procedures outlined in Radio Systems Policy (RP) 008 – Policy Framework for Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) and Broadcasting-Satellite Service (BSS) (“the Policy”) and Client Procedures Circular (CPC)2-6-02 — Licensing of Space Stations (“the Procedures”), as they apply to NGSO systems:

  • limiting the number of licences per band for certain commercial systems;
  • changes to Canadian direction and control requirements;
  • changes to Canadian coverage and capacity requirements;
  • removal of coexistence as an assessment criterion;
  • clarification of implementation milestones; and
  • measures to address coordination disputes.

3. In addition, views are sought related to clarification of the procedures for re-assigning spectrum when authorizations have been returned or revoked.

4. Following the consultation, the Policy and Procedures will be updated and the moratorium on commercial NGSO systems will be lifted.

Read the full notice here.

Updated 8:00 p.m. EST: A reader pointed out to me this topic was raised by industry as part of the conversation that take took place at the recent Space 2.0 Round Table. Even if this consultation had already been in the planning stages before the Round Table, it appears the government was ready and willing to listen to the community and take action.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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