South Africa has moved to protect its access to certain satellites and frequencies as the global company managing these undergoes restructuring.
Telecommunications and postal services department acting deputy director-general, Joe Mjwara, told a select parliamentary committee on Wednesday that global company Intelsat – originally established as an organisation to protect and facilitate the sharing of telecommunications facilities and rights – had been restructured.
Interested parties had decided an agreement on public service obligations should be amended to protect their “common heritage” – their slots and frequencies while this happened. Given the restructuring, they could be amalgamated with another company which might not prioritise their use for public service.
They could even be attached as assets.
If this happened, richer countries and companies would get first dibs, going against a decades-old agreement they shared for public services between the 149 countries party to the agreement.
Losing the rights could affect the connections allowing countries to link their telecommunications systems with the satellites hurtling through space – including those enabling international television broadcasts, voice and data communications and telemedicine.