French satellite giant Eutelsat claimed that two of its satellites were blocked from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Eutelsat is one of the largest satellite operators in the world and broadcasts thousands of television and radio channels across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In a statement released on Friday (opens in a new tab) (October 7), Eutelsat claims that it “experienced interference on two of its satellites” and that this interference “originated in Iran”. Typically, this is achieved by bombarding a satellite and/or its receivers with noise on the same radio frequency as its intended transmissions.
The satellites in question are used to broadcast TV and radio news stations in Persian from outside Iran. The allegation comes as widespread protests enter their third week following the death of an Iranian-Kurdish woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police.
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In the statement, Eutelset claims that the jamming signals “negatively affect the transmission of several digital television and radio channels broadcasting in Persian from outside Iran, as well as other channels”. After conducting an independent analysis using a “specially designed interference detection system“, Eutelsat is convinced that the interference signals originated inside Iran, the statement said.
Subsequently, Eutelsat “immediately notified the competent authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran” in order to demand that the jamming operations be “immediately and definitively stopped”. According to the statement, Eutelsat informed the Iranian authorities that this type of intentional jamming is explicitly prohibited by the ITU. The ITU definitions of jamming and jamming as well as their regulations regarding them can be found on the agency’s website (opens in a new tab).
Protests across Iran continue following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died while in police custody after being arrested for being “inappropriately dressed”. according to the Washington Post (opens in a new tab). Amini’s death has led to widespread protests against Iran’s harsh morality laws, prompting government crackdowns that have led to increased censorship of social media and other digital communications.
In the wake of the crackdown, many public figures expressed support for increased internet freedoms and the free flow of information in Iran. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tweeted on September 23 (opens in a new tab) that the United States government has taken steps to provide Iranians with “greater access to digital communications to counter Iranian government censorship.”
In response to Blinken, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted (opens in a new tab) that it was “activating Starlink”, presumably meaning that SpaceX was trying to boost Iranians’ access to the internet in response to government crackdowns. (Starlink has provided similar services to Ukraine during the ongoing invasion of Russia.) As Futurism and other outlets have pointed out, however, providing Starlink internet service to the people of Iran would require physical Starlink terminals and subscription services, neither is currently available (opens in a new tab) to Iranians.
Eutelsat says it is working “around the clock” to remedy the problem and mitigate the effects of the interference.