Satellite organisations

All three satellite organisations ITSO, IMSO and EUTELSAT IGO are intergovernmental organisations charged with ensuring that providers of telecommunications services by private satellites, i.e. Intelsat Ltd, Inmarsat plc and Eutelsat SA respectively, comply with the public service obligations to which they are subject. 

OFCOM and the satellite organisations

At the time of their creation, the mission of the IGOs INTELSAT (currently ITSO), INMARSAT (currently IMSO) and EUTELSAT (currently EUTELSAT IGO) was to design and operate satellite telecommunications systems with a view to providing services to their Member States in their respective spheres, namely the provision of high-quality international telecommunications services, the provision of maritime emergency communication services and the transmission of broadcast radio and television programme services.

At the beginning of the 2000s, OFCOM took an active role in the restructuring processes underway in the three organisations. When this process was complete, and as a political compromise, it was decided to transfer the commercial activities previously provided by these three intergovernmental organisations to private entities and to assign to each of the residual intergovernmental organisations a supervisory role over the newly created commercial companies. This is why today: 

  • ITSO, which has 149 Member States, has the task of ensuring the provision international public telecommunications services of high reliability and high quality and of promoting international public telecommunications services to meet the needs of the information and communication society. It supervises Intelsat Ltd. 
  • IMSO, which has 100 Member States, has the task of ensuring that the provision of mobile maritime satellite communications services for the global maritime distress and safety at sea system (GMDSS) provided by Inmarsat plc is in conformity with the legal framework established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). IMSO is also the coordinator of the identification and monitoring system for long-haul vessels as established by the IMO. 
  • EUTELSAT IGO, which has 49 Member States, has the task of ensuring that within the framework of its activities, Eutelsat SA respects the principles of public service/universal service, of pan-European coverage of the satellite system, of non-discrimination and of fair competition. 

OFCOM represents the Party of Switzerland at Assemblies of Parties of ITSO, IMSO and EUTELSAT IGO.  It is also an elected member which sits on the Advisory Committees of ITSO and EUTELSAT IGO and takes part as an observer in the meetings of the IMSO Advisory Committee.

Activities and structure of the satellite organisations

The structure of the three organisations is based on the same model, namely: 

  • the Assembly of Parties, which normally meets every 2 years. Each Member State has one vote.
  • a governing body, charged with ensuring the correct functioning of the Organisations between two Assemblies of Parties.
  • The governing body is assisted by an Advisory Committee, composed of elected representatives of various countries.

In 2009, these 3 organisations signed a tripartite agreement (a Memorandum of Understanding - MoU) under which they undertake to keep each other informed of their activities which are of mutual interest.


Specialist staff
Last modification 01.04.2019

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