In Ny-Ålesund Research Station there are restrictions on the use of radio frequencies (RF) in the frequency range 2-32 GHz in the geographical area within a 20 km radius from Ny-Ålesund. This involves (among others) the use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from both personal and scientific equipment. This frequency range is protected by law due to scientific activity.

While the general rule is that the use of equipment that emits radio frequencies (such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) should be avoided, such equipment can be used for safety, operational and scientific reasons. In practise this means that you have to apply for a licence from the Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom) and coordinate your activity with NMA and the rest of the Ny-Ålesund science community.

If you are planning activity with for example drones, ROVs, UAVs or the use of other scientific equipement please read these guidlines on how to proceed:

Procedures for the use of radio frequencies

More bacground information about the radio silence in Ny-Ålesund

Free use under certain conditions – The General Authorization Legislation

Norwegian legislation regarding the use of radio frequencies is described in the General authorisations regulations or fribruksforskriften and allows for a general “free use” (no application needed) of some frequencies under certain conditions (e.g. signal power). However, the frequency range between 2 and 32 GHz in the geographical area within a 20 km radius from Ny-Ålesund is exempt from such free use, and any use of equipment operating in this frequency range requires explicit permission from The Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom). This exemption is set up to protect the Norwegian Mapping Authority’s VLBI system.

For equipment that is not covered by the General Authorization Legislation

When Nkom processes applications for use of transmitters that are not covered by the General Authorization legislation, they will base their decision on international frequency regulations and harmonisations. Nkom will seek to protect other radio services with priority in the requested bands and other existing licences in Ny-Ålesund. Nkom may reject an application due to risk of interference with protected bands or existing licences.

Equipmenet that only recieves radio frequencies

Normally, devices that only receive Radio Frequenices (RF) (i.e., passive listening devices) do not require a permission from Nkom. Note, though, that satellite receiver stations do require such a permission. While a permission is not required for RF receivers, it is recommended that information about any important RF receiving equipment in Ny-Ålesund is conveyed to Nkom. Having such information at hand will enable Nkom to reach an informed decision regarding any future applications for the placement of RF emitting devices in Ny-Ålesund – weighing pros and cons.

Information regarding passive RF receivers and their purpose should be sent to Nkom at

The Norwegian Government’s Svalbard Strategy states that “Radio silence and a local environment that is as pristine as possible are important premises for further development and use of Ny-Ålesund. Important instruments, observatories and other facilities depend on this. At the same time, it is important that on-site research organisations continue the constructive dialogue already under way to develop good systems for managing their shared presence and maintaining a solid basis for high-quality research and monitoring”.

Several scientific instruments in Ny-Ålesund take advantage of the radio silence in Ny-Ålesund. An overview of both transmitting and receiving RF devices in use in Ny-Ålesund today is included in the NySMAC frequency list.

The Norwegian Mapping Authority (NMA) operates an observatory that includes two VLBI antennas that operate in the range 2–14 GHz (plans to extend this to 32 GHz in the future). While the observatory in a start-up phase is running 24h operations 3-5 times per week, this will increase to 24/7 operations in the near future. The new antennas are fully operational. The NMA activity is protected by Norwegian law.

The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences has a satellite receiving station operating between 2.2-2.45 and 7.9-8.4 GHz. Like the measurements conducted by NMA, the activities of GFZ rely on other actors in Ny-Ålesund adhering to the radio silence regulations described above. GFZ provides information on how to prevent disturbance of satellite reception on their web site.

NySMAC established in 2010 the radio silence working group (RSWG) to produce written recommendations for functional procedures and organization for a consistent follow-up of the rules for radio quietness in Ny-Ålesund. Since then the RSWG have existed to maintain the focus on the issue with radio silence in Ny-Ålesund. The RSWG reports to NySMAC at every meeting, and brings to the table issues that needs to be discussed or focused upon.

The group is currently chaired by Carsten Falck from German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), with member representatives from Norwegian Mapping Authority, Norwegian Polar Institute, Kings Bay AS, Andøya Space, NORCE and Alfred Wegener Institute.

The Norwegian Mapping Authority’s Geodetic Earth Observatory in Ny-Ålesund

The observatory ranks as the northernmost facility of its kind.
Photo: NMA

The observatory is among a handful of the world’s first core sites within the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS), co-locating the four space geodetic techniques: Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS).

The observatory is a fundamental part of a network of stations which define the global geodetic reference frame, and will be crucial to realise GGOS’s ambitious goals of 1 mm accuracy and 0.1 mm/yr stability.

Read more about the observatory here.

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