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Open-Source Amateur Satellite Work Not Subject to Export Administration Regulation


CEO Michelle Thompson, W5NYV, reports that Open Research Institute (ORI) received an advisory opinion from the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on September 2. The letter confirmed that public internet posts regarding open-source amateur satellite communications work are not subject to Export Administration Regulation (EAR). ORI was founded in March 2018 by Bruce Perens, K6BP, in order to provide a formal structure for open-source satellite work. Prior work by ORI established that open-source amateur satellite communications work was free of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

“This is a significant regulatory success for open-source amateur satellite work and open source in general,” Thompson said. In a later post on the ORI site, Thompson said ITAR and EAR have had a dramatic effect on both commercial and amateur satellite work since the 1990s. “The regulations are blamed for a significant decline in US market share for satellite systems and halted highly successful international amateur collaborations,” she wrote.

Open-source work that is published as it is created and is freely available to the general public at no cost is not subject to ITAR or EAR, Thompson said.

ORI’s work was funded by ARDC, with legal assistance provided by Thomsen and Burke LLP. All documents and links to presentations about the work are available.

“Thank you to those who have supported and assisted ORI during the many stages of this successful regulatory endeavor,” Thompson said. “ORI will build upon this work to advance the aims and purposes of open-source amateur satellites.”

Some ORI projects include:

Phase 4 Ground Station — Digital microwave broadband communication system for space and terrestrial amateur radio use.

Phase 4 Space — Digital microwave broadband communication system for space. 6U, GEO and interplanetary. Both Phase 4 projects rely on an open source version of DVB-S2/X and polyphase filter banks, with FDMA uplink at 5 GHz and TDM downlink at 10 GHz.

M17 Project — M17 is a new alternative digital radio protocol. Headed by Wojciech (SP5WWP) in Poland, a team of several other amateur radio operators is involved.

Visit the ORI website’s “Getting Started” page to get involved.



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