ARRL General Bulletin ARLB045 (1997)

ARLB045 One less Little LEO

ARRL Bulletin 45  ARLB045
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  August 8, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLB045 One less Little LEO

The Little LEO industry that has been seeking access to spectrum
below 1 GHz, including amateur bands, is about to have one less
player. On July 14, CTA Incorporated of Rockville, Maryland, and
Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, announced an
agreement for Orbital to purchase CTA's satellite manufacturing and
communications service business units. The deal is expected to close
in August.

Orbital is already in a joint venture with Teleglobe to provide
Little LEO services through Orbital Communications Corp. (ORBCOMM).
ORBCOMM's system is already licensed and is operational on a limited
basis. Uplinks are 2400 bps FSK in the 148-149.9 MHz band and user
downlinks are 4800 bps FSK in the 137-138 MHz band, with beaconing in
the 400-401 MHz band. In its press release announcing the
acquisition, Orbital said that a CTA service it had purchased, called
GEMtrak, may be expanded to use the ORBCOMM network in the future.
GEMtrak is a system for tracking truck trailers and rail cars and
their cargoes.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, noted that the
combining of CTA's satellite business with ORBCOMM's will reduce by
one the number of companies seeking Little LEO licenses. ''CTA was one
of the companies that sponsored the ill-conceived and controversial
'flexible allocation' proposal that we had to oppose earlier this
year,'' he said. ''ORBCOMM did not endorse the flexible allocation

The Little LEO issue is on the agenda for the World
Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-97) to be held this fall. ARRL
Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, is a member of the US
delegation. The US is now finalizing its proposals for the
conference. At this point, no US Little LEO proposal for WRC-97 would
affect ham radio.