Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Kenneth Katkin

First Page



In 1971, eighty-five nations (including the United States) formed the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), a public intergovernmental treaty organization. INTELSAT was charged with operating the world's first global telecommunications satellite system, to guarantee the interconnectedness of the world's communications systems and the availability of international telecommunications service to every nation on earth. By the late 1980s, however, INTELSAT's operations began to experience substantial competition from the private sector. In 2000, the proliferation of privately-owned telecommunications satellites and transoceanic fiber-optic cables led the U.S. Congress to mandate the privatization of INTELSAT. That privatization process began in 2001, and was substantially completed on April 8, 2005, when the Federal Communications Commission approved the $5 billion sale of INTELSAT's former satellite system to private investors.