One checklist at a time: Towards simplifying satellite Internet access in the Asia Pacific

By on 13 Mar 2024

Categories: Policy Tech matters

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In an era where socio-economic progress depends upon reliable and widely available Internet access, ensuring seamless connectivity has become essential. And for remote and underserved regions, satellite Internet is the only reliable option. Unfortunately, navigating through the complex legalities and licensing procedures across multiple jurisdictions can be challenging.

Enter the Internet Law Research Clinic (ILRC) at Bond University. Their solution is a comprehensive checklist poised to simplify satellite-driven Internet access in the Asia Pacific. Created for APNIC and its Members with support from the APNIC Foundation, this checklist unravels the legal and licensing complexities and demystifies the rules and regulations. Digital connectivity is no longer a luxury but a lifeline, and this checklist will support providers and users on their journey towards a more connected and inclusive future.

The checklist, summarized in Table 1 below, while being generic, covers a broad range of critical aspects. It prompts users to explore key issues such as the existence of laws related to Internet service provision and access, the possible restrictions on Internet use, and the role of satellites in Internet connectivity in the relevant economy. By addressing these aspects, the checklist enables users to gain a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory environment they operate in.

One of the major areas this checklist highlights is the regulatory framework surrounding satellite Internet access. It helps users identify relevant legal frameworks, or lack thereof, and understand how the use of satellites for Internet access is regulated. It also guides users in identifying the responsible regulatory bodies and discerning the licensing requirements to use, operate or control satellites for Internet access.

Of note is the checklist’s emphasis on understanding the technical requirements for satellite Internet provision, such as radiofrequency spectrum management and data speed standards. This element highlights the checklist’s comprehensive nature, ensuring that users are equipped with all the necessary knowledge to navigate this complex field.

ILRC’s work offers an adaptable tool to address the legal and technical complexities of satellite Internet access. It not only simplifies the processes for APNIC Members but also contributes to the broader goal of expanding reliable Internet access across the Asia Pacific region. Developing this checklist signifies an important step towards enabling equitable Internet access, leveraging satellite technology. It acknowledges the diverse legal landscapes across the Asia Pacific while providing a unified, comprehensive guide for APNIC Members.

While the checklist is not a substitute for legal advice, it is a valuable starting point for anyone looking to understand the legalities and intricacies of satellite Internet provision. It therefore signifies a hopeful stride towards making the digital world more accessible and inclusive for all.

Checklist ProvisionExplanation
Existing laws
The checklist begins by identifying laws related to Internet service and access. It also probes into possible restrictions on Internet usage such as content censorship or website blocking.
Role of satellites
It queries whether satellites are used for Internet access and the types of satellites used. It encourages investigation into other mediums used for Internet access.
Satellite Internet laws
It aims to understand the legal frameworks governing satellite Internet access, highlighting the importance of understanding regulatory oversight in the relevant economy.
Regulatory bodies
The checklist seeks to identify the government body responsible for regulating Internet service provision, with a focus on whether a separate body exists that specifically regulates satellite Internet provisioning.
Licensing process
The checklist delves into the licensing process, asking whether permission is required to operate or control satellites for Internet access. It covers everything from types of licenses to the application procedure and renewal process.
Technical requirements
It investigates the technicalities of satellite Internet provision, such as radio frequency spectrum management and minimum data upload/download speeds.
Internet providersFinally, the checklist looks into existing or planned satellite Internet providers in the Member economy, giving an overview of the competitive landscape.
Table 1 — Summary of the checklist.

This Bond University Law Clinic project was supported by the APNIC Foundation to examine issues affecting legal frameworks related to Internet connectivity in Asia Pacific economies. It explored Indonesian laws on satellite usage, legal frameworks for satellite Internet access in the Asia Pacific, and satellite use in Australia, the US, and the EU. Completed in 2024, the project also highlighted the legal complexities of satellite technology and identified key features for best practices in Internet Connectivity Legal Frameworks.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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