Ofcom holds off on ICO-Global

On Feb 27 Ofcom let it be known that it intended to write to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) saying it would no longer be supporting ICO-Global’s transmission spectrum licences (administered by the UK even though they concern Cayman Island-allocated satellite broadcast frequencies). Now, Ofcom has – at least for the time being – changed its mind.

The original Ofcom statement (see below) sent ICO-Global ballistic. On March 4 ICO issued a statement, saying: “ICO-Global takes strong exception to the press statement by the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) regarding Ofcom's intent to write to the ITU on March 17, to ‘instruct that the ICO-P assignments currently recorded in the ITU Master Register be cancelled.’ ‘ICO-P’ refers to ICO's medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellation. ICO F2, the first orbiting satellite in the MEO constellation, was launched in June, 2001 and continues to provide services.”

The ICO statement continued: “ICO is registered in the ITU Master International Frequency Register (MIFR) as a result of having spent more than a decade and billions of dollars constructing an international satellite system, as well as its continued efforts to further enhance its satellite system. ICO has recently prevailed in a significant legal action against the Boeing companies regarding the fraudulent activity, breach of contract and tortuous interference which caused the delays related to the deployment of the remainder of the system. ICO is continuing to defend its international legal rights, including through participation in international regulatory organizations and litigation.”

Ofcom’s original February statement said: “Following a review of the status of the deployment of the ICO-P mobile satellite system conducted over a three year period involving extensive consultation with ICO Global Communications (ICO), and having carefully considered the representations made by ICO, Ofcom has taken a decision that it will write to the ITU on 17 March to instruct that the ICO-P assignments currently recorded in the ITU Master Register be cancelled.”

On Mar 13 ICO wrote to Ofcom referring to its right to seek a judicial review of Ofcom’s decision to write to the ITU to instruct that the ICO-P assignments currently recorded in the ITU Master Register be cancelled.

Ofcom now says: “In light of this Ofcom considers that it is appropriate for it to refrain from writing to the ITU before the time period for ICO to apply for a judicial review expires, which is 23 May 2009.”