Optimizing Satellite Communication: Ensuring Security and Accessibility for Global Connectivity

14 May 2024

You can jump to any part of the United States International Cyberspace & Digital Policy Strategy here. This part is 15 of 38.

Line of Effort 4: Pursue Shared Interests in the Development, Use, Resilience, and Security of Satellite Communication Networks

Satellite communications remain a vital capability for connecting the world and delivering global access to information. Geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites have served this mission for decades and will continue to do so for decades to come. Newly deployed satellite technologies, including low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, are increasingly important to the United States, its allies, and partners as we work to connect the unconnected. The distributed nature of proliferated satellite constellations offers resilience, and LEO satellite communication services can increasingly be deployed rapidly to cover disaster or conflict zones. Moreover, the ability of LEO satellite services to bring broadband communications to almost every inch of the planet raises the possibility of expanding Internet access in a rights-respecting manner, closing the digital divide, and advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals.

U.S. firms lead in the development and deployment of GEO and LEO satellite communication services, but other countries, including our strategic competitors, are investing in new technology capacities. The PRC is planning a constellation of about 13,000 satellites, with a clear government mandate and significant financial subsidies. Some states, concerned that LEO satellite capabilities will undermine their ability to control information flows, are raising market access barriers, such as setting stringent domestic equipment requirements or forbidding foreign ownership. Some governments and non-government stakeholders have also raised concerns in multilateral bodies about increased space debris, interference with astronomy, increased cases of radio frequency interference among LEO satellites or from LEO to GEO satellites, and other potential negative impacts of LEO satellite networks. Some countries, although they are interested in the connectivity benefits LEO satellite systems could bring, are unfamiliar with the systems and lack effective regimes to support market entry and licensing. In addition, space systems and assets introduce vulnerabilities to U.S. and allies’ critical infrastructure that our adversaries are willing to exploit.

The Department of State will cooperate with partners and allies to pursue shared interests in the development, use, resilience, and security of LEO satellite systems. The Department of State will work to expand global access to secure services through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), remove barriers to LEO satellite system providers, and increase multilateral assistance for satellite services for underserved areas. The Department of State, along with other agencies, will also facilitate international cooperation on research and development in LEO satellites. The United States will also promote norms, guidelines, and best practices, including the development of licensing and regulatory regimes, for the secure, safe, and sustainable use of LEO satellites, as well as work with allies and partners on enhancing space cybersecurity and critical infrastructure resilience and security.

Continue Reading Here.

This post was originally published on May 6, 2024, by the U.S Department of State