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In his presentation, Steven Doiron, executive vice president, regulatory & spectrum affairs at Yahsat, the Abu Dhabi-based multi-mission satellite services company, urged governments and satellite operators to work together internationally to improve space situational awareness (SSA) that allows for effective regulatory implementation and monitoring.  Doiron outlined the international satellite operator community’s efforts to address space debris and urged governments to take action.

“We need everybody to participate by the same set of rules,” he said. “Governments should support research and development efforts both nationally and internationally to improve space situational awareness.”

Doiron said regulatory frameworks governing commercial and non-commercial missions should incorporate space debris mitigation requirements to proactively mitigate risks while giving operators flexibility on meeting the requirements.

“We need to have that collaboration not just with governments but with operators and companies internationally, to make sure that everybody is playing by the same rule book. These actions will go a long way to ensure the continued use and critical benefits of space for all humankind.”

Jawad Abbassi , head of MENA, GSMA said that satellites have role to play in bridging world’s connectivity gap that affects 9.61% of the world’s population. Jawad Abbassi said while the mobile industry is the largest connectivity platform on earth with 5.2 billion cellular users, half a billion people are left behind in a coverage dilemma. “We cannot leave these people behind, and the satellite industry has a role in expanding reach to places where microwave or fiber have no impact,” he said. 

Abbassi said the mobile trend over the coming five years would see a gradual switch off 2G and 3G networks and growth of 4G and 5G networks. “The major role for NTNs (non-terrestrial networks) will be in bridging the coverage gap much as 4G, as the first harmonised network, unleashed the gig economy, 5G networks can solve the dilemma of half a billion people currently being left behind.”

Mesut Ciceker, chief advisor at SSI of Monaco questioned whether low earth orbit (LEO) is now becoming an uncontrolled billionaires’ playground, and called for increased regulation of space activities. “Regulation is very important, and we don’t have enough in place,” he said. Ciceker went on to warn of the risk of overcrowded LEO space with an influx of smart satellites to boost the cost-effectiveness of satellite operations and end-user services. “In a rush to make things more cost-effective, we should be aware that we can disturb the eco-system. We must be more sensitive towards space,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Badr Alsuwaidan, acting president & CEO of Arabsat of Saudi Arabia said the satellite industry is entering an entirely new development era driven by increasing digital demand. The advent of smart satellites from an increasing range of start-ups is disrupting the industry enabling satellite operators to become more “affordable and accessible.” He said, “As demand for digital services grows, the industry is undergoing disruption and even our end-users have changed from major government and defense entities to everyone, everywhere, so the manufacturers of satellites must also change so we can ensure an improved efficiency of satellite services.”

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