Home ABOUT ITSO Milestones

The Creation of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) resulted from the willingness of nations to join the United States in 1964 to establish a commercial communications satellite system. The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization is an intergovernmental treaty organization that 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 as soon as practicable on a global and non-discriminatory basis.

alt Since its creation, the Organization has increased its membership to 149 States. The Organization underwent an important restructuring in 2001. The Assembly of Parties, the highest decision-making body of the Organization that is comprised of all Member States, took the decision to restructure the Organization at its 24th meeting on October 1999.

The 25th Assembly of Parties meeting in November 2000 finalized and adopted the legal instruments and framework to enact the restructuring. On 18 July 2001, the member States of the Organization implemented the restructuring whereby the intergovernmental Organization transferred certain assets, including satellites and orbital filings, to Intelsat, Ltd., a new, Bermuda-registered, commercial entity.

The '60s

In 1965, the Organization launched the world's first commercial communications satellite, the "Early Bird." Within four years, the Organization established the first global satellite communications system, with satellites covering the three major ocean regions. In 1969, the Organization transmitted footage of the historic Apollo XI lunar landing.

The '70s

In 1974, the Organization created the world's first international digital voice communications service. Later that year, the Organization activated a direct "hot line" link between the White House and the Kremlin. In 1978, an estimated one billion people in 42 countries watched World Cup soccer matches via the Organization's satellite system.

The '80s

altIn the 1980s, the Organization introduced more powerful satellites that allowed broadcasters to use small, easily transportable earth stations to broadcast major news events, live, from anywhere in the world for the first time. In 1987, the Organization engineered the largest international teleconference in history, linking over 50,000 people in 79 cities to discuss world hunger.

The '90s

altIn the early 1990s, the Organization's satellites were used for commercial Internet applications and multimedia. In 1997, the Organization offered the world's first, global, pay-as-you-go, shared-access satellite service for low-demand areas. This enabled public telecom operators to connect many rural villages and remote areas for the first time.

2000 and Beyond

The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT) underwent an important restructuring in 2001 in order to adapt to the changing commercial environment and, ultimately, protect its fundamental mission of providing public international telecommunications services to all areas of the world on a non-discriminatory basis.

The Twenty-Fifth Assembly of Parties, which took place in November 2000, approved the legal instruments and framework necessary to create a commercial and competitive company (Intelsat, Ltd.) to operate the satellite system and provide space segment capacity in a manner consistent with its Public Service Obligations. It decided that the IGO shall maintain its name (International Telecommunications Satellite Organization), change its acronym to ITSO.

Since 2001, ITSO has faithfully fulfilled all of the obligations imposed upon it by the ITSO Agreement and the Public Services Agreement, and has taken appropriate measures necessary to ensure that each of the Core Principles has been adhered to by Intelsat as well as to protect the Parties’ Common Heritage. In addition, ITSO has taken a number of proactive actions, including the filing of the Section 316 Petition with the FCC that secured important modifications to the licensing process utilized by the FCC. The Assembly itself has approved an important amendment to the ITSO Agreement that will further ensure that the Public Service Obligations incorporated into the ITSO Agreement can be maintained in the face of various contingencies.

 Some examples of ITSO milestones since 2001 include:

  • Supervision of Intelsat’s Adherence to the Core Principles
  • Monitoring of Intelsat’s Adherence to the LCO Program
  • Protection of the Parties’ Common Heritage

o  Modification of Intelsat’s satellite licenses with the FCC

o  Amendment of Article XII (c) (ii) of the ITSO Agreement

o  Re-labeling the Parties’ Common Heritage orbital locations in the ITU Registry

o  Recognition of the Common Heritage by the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC 12) in which a resolution on:Use of satellite orbital positions and associated frequency spectrum to deliver international public telecommunications services in developing countries” was adopted. That resolution laid specific emphasis on satellite technologies. In particular, under the “resolves” part, ITU-R is to continue to collaborate with and provide information to ITU-D on satellite technologies and applications that will help developing countries with development and implementation of satellite networks and services; and ITU-R is to undertake studies to determine whether it might be necessary to apply additional regulatory measures to enhance the availability of public international telecommunication services through satellite technology. The results of these studies are to be reported to WRC 15.The resolution also calls for organization of capacity building activities that will assist developing countries in building capacities in the development and use of satellite telecommunications

  •  Contribution to the Promotion of a Global Information and Communications Infrastructure

o  Active participation in international symposiums and conferences such as the Global Symposium for Regulators and the World Radiocommunications Conference.

o  Active involvement with the International Telecommunication Union and the Broadband Commission.

o  Partnerships with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) to explore multilateral activities to promote the use of satellite technology to bridge the digital divide.

o  ITSO and its partners have organized training sessions in Angola, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Senegal, Niger and Uganda. Specific training materials have been developed for these training sessions.