ITSO is an intergovernmental organization with 149-member states, that incorporates the principle set forth in Resolution 1721 (XVI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which established that communication by means of satellite should be available to the nations of the world as soon as practicable on a global and non-discriminatory basis. Originally established in 1973 as INTELSAT, the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization was restructured in 2001. The restructuring led to the creation of a private entity, Intelsat S.A. and to the continuation of the intergovernmental organization with a new acronym (ITSO). ITSO´s mission is to monitor the performance of Intelsat’s public service obligations and to safeguard the Parties’ Common Heritage.
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.
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 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.