International Telecommunications Satellite Organization

The organisation promotes and coordinates the operation of the telecommunications satellite system.

Origin and Development

The International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (INTELSAT) has its origin in the International Telecommunications Consortium which was founded in 1964 by the telecommunications agencies of nations. The Consortium, the first worldwide system of its kind, was open to all members of the ITU, and its management resided in the US Communication Satellite Corporation (COMSAT).  As membership expanded, it was decided to create a formal organisation. As a result, Intelsat was established by two international agreements concluded at Washington in August 1971, effective February 1973; the Agreement with four annexes, establishing the Organisation itself, was signed by participating states; and the Operating Agreement, with one annexe, was concluded among states and public and private telecommunications bodies designated by the states. At present, over 140 countries participate as full members; while another 45 are non-signatory users.


The objective is “to carry forward on a definitive basis the design, development, construction, establishment, operation and maintenance of the space segment of the commercial telecommunications satellite system”.


INTELSAT consists of the Assembly of Parties, Meeting of Signatories, Board of Governors and an Executive Organ. The Assembly of Parties gives “consideration to those aspects of INTELSAT which are primarily of interest to the parties as sovereign states”. Meeting once every two years, the Assembly formulates policy and long-term aims.  The Meeting of Signatories is primarily concerned with financial, technical and operational matters, and includes other parties who are signatories to the Agreements. The Board of Governors is composed of 27 members and provides management policy direction. The Governors are appointed on the basis of contribution, which is not less than a specified investment share, as well as on regional considerations. The Executive Organ is headed by a Director-General.