With the market race heating up, ITU looks to unlocking satellite communications direct to mobile phones at WRC-27 amid regulatory and technical challenges.


Satellite Direct-to-Device Communications: Issues and Challenges

March 20, 2024

Recognising its potential in various use cases, particularly as an alternative to mobile connectivity in underserved and remote areas, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is looking to allocate certain frequency bands for direct connectivity between satellites and mobile phones or Direct-to-Device (D2D) service, possibly at WRC-27.

However, developing and implementing the necessary regulations for D2D is faced with various issues and challenges, given its unique service proposition: a direct link between satellites and mobile phones.

Frequency Challenges

As D2D service crosses over between terrestrial and satellite services, ITU will have to decide which frequency should be used – terrestrial or satellite – as each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

While nothing is definite right now, the ITU seems to currently favour using the satellite bands, given Resolution COM6/9 (WRC-23) to complete studies by WRC-27 for possible allocations to the mobile-satellite service in the frequency range between 694/698 MHz and 2.7 GHz for direct connectivity between space stations and International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) user equipment, including possible technical and operational measures to ensure that MSS stations do not cause harmful interference to mobile service stations.

Regulatory Challenges

As D2D may cross geographical borders, it also presents a challenge to a country’s regulatory framework and approach to spectrum management. As customers of D2D may be located in far-away areas not reached by traditional mobile network operators, they may cross national boundaries in using their mobile phones.  Therefore, it is imperative for neighbouring countries to cooperate and closely coordinate with one another regarding spectrum management for D2D services.

Roaming regulations and relevant authorisations and licensing requirements could also be affected because D2D service providers may no longer be limited to a single country or territory. This may trigger regional or international licensing frameworks and possibly, a dedicated international regulator.


Given that both international and local regulatory frameworks may evolve in the coming years with the introduction of D2D services, satellite and telecommunications operators should keep abreast of regulatory and technical developments in this area.

For More Information

OrionW regularly advises clients on telecommunications matters.  For more information about telecommunications, or if you have questions about this article, please contact us at info@orionw.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.


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