The creation of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO), previously known by the acronym, "INTELSAT," resulted from the efforts of a group of nations to join the United States in 1964 to establish a global communications satellite system. The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization is an intergovernmental organization that incorporates the principle set forth in Resolution 1721 (XVI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which establishes that communication by means of satellites should be available to the nations of the world as soon as practicable on a global and non-discriminatory basis. It also incorporates the principle embedded in the "Outer Space Treaty," which states that outer space shall be used for the benefit and in the interest of all countries.
The Organization underwent an important restructuring in 2001 in order to secure the long-term viability of its communications system in a market that is characterized by increasing competition, fast-paced innovations and rising capital costs, and in order to attract private investments. The Assembly of Parties, the highest decision-making body of the Organization, in 2000 approved the legal instruments and framework necessary to create a commercial and pro-competitive company named "Intelsat, Ltd.," to operate the satellite system and provide space segment capacity in a manner consistent with the core principles of global coverage and connectivity, lifeline connectivity and non-discriminatory access. For this purpose, ITSO transferred its global satellite system, including the geostationary-orbital locations, "landing rights" and the brand-name of "Intelsat," to Intelsat, Ltd. Since this transfer in 2001, Intelsat has invested US$ 2.6 billion to substantially improve the global connectivity and coverage that it offers. As a result, Intelsat's global communications network, which was composed of 19 satellites in 2001, has expanded to 53 satellites through new launches and acquisitions, while Intelsat simultaneously has expanded its terrestrial facilities, including teleports, points of presence and fiber connectivity.
Since its establishment, the Organization has proved to be an efficient catalyst for global cooperation in satellite communications. It has promoted cross-border flows of information that are vital to business, trade and peace, and it has been instrumental in linking the developing countries to the global economy and enhancing the competitiveness of their economies
ITSO has succeeded in providing high-quality and reliable space segment capacity for public telecommunications services, including telephony, data, video and Internet connectivity, to more than 200 countries and territories, no matter their location, size or level of development. The Organization also has inspired the emergence of dozens of participants at the national, regional and international level in the satellite industry, which today is worth more than US $100 billion.
Since 18 July 2001, ITSO has been restructured as follows:
At the intergovernmental level:
Assembly of Parties: is the governing body of the Organization, currently comprised of the 149 member countries of ITSO, and meets normally every two years in ordinary Assemblies. The Assembly of Parties elects a Panel of Legal Experts that resolves disputes in connection with the Agreement between two or more member countries, or between ITSO and one or more member country.
Executive Organ: is headed by the Director General, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the legal representative of ITSO, and is responsible to the Assembly of Parties. The Director General supervises and monitors Intelsat, Ltd.'s provision of public telecommunications services. An Advisory Committee comprised of representatives of 23 member countries provides consultative advice to the Director General on any matters requested.
At the operating level:
Intelsat, Ltd.: is a private and competitive company originally based in Washington, DC. On 15 December 2009, Intelsat, Ltd. changed its domicile to Luxembourg and the company is now known as Intelsat S.A. The corporate structure of Intelsat, Ltd. includes several subsidiaries established under the laws of various countries. Intelsat Global Service, established under U.S. law, is located in Washington, DC, and employs the majority of the 800 staff. The United States and United Kingdom were the two countries selected by the Organization to manage licensing issues. The United States is responsible for licensing the launch and operation of satellites for "Fixed Satellite Services" ("FSS") in C- and Ku- bands, while the United Kingdom is responsible for "Broadcasting Satellite Services" ("BSS") and FSS in Ka-bands. Within their responsibility as the notifying administrations of Intelsat, Ltd., the United States and the United Kingdom work with the Director General on potential activities to expand access to lifeline countries and to maintain global connectivity and service to these countries.
What is ITSO?
Ans. ITSO, the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (previously abbreviated as "INTELSAT"), is an intergovernmental organization, established in 1964, that ensures that communications by means of satellites are available to nations of the world on a global and non-discriminatory basis.
Who are the members of ITSO?
Ans. ITSO currently has 149 member countries. Membership is open to any member country of the United Nations or the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). A country may join the Organization by officially depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the treaty Agreement with the United States (Department of State), which serves as the Depositary.
What does ITSO do?
Ans. ITSO ensures that all countries in the world have access to international public telecommunications services for voice, data, video communications and Internet access that are provided by Intelsat, Ltd., on a global and non-discriminatory basis, and with high-reliability and quality. ITSO also works to ensure that Intelsat provides new services to meet the future needs of the information and communications society.
Is ITSO a United Nations Agency or is there a relationship between ITSO and the United Nations?
Ans. ITSO is not an agency of the United Nations. However, the ITSO Agreement incorporates the principle set forth in Resolution 1721 (XVI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations that establishes that communication by means of satellites should be available to the nations of the world on a global and non-discriminatory basis. The Director General sends an annual report on the activities of ITSO to the Secretary General of the United Nations and its specialized agencies.
Is there a relationship between ITSO and the ITU?
Ans. Although there is no institutional relationship between ITSO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the organizations share the common goal of developing the telecommunications infrastructure. ITSO and the ITU maintain a close relationship to ensure efficient and equitable access to the limited radio spectrum and geostationary-orbital resources. They also cooperate in promoting access to new satellite services, such as broadband, in developing countries.