Argos Joint Tariff Agreement

Argos Joint Tariff Agreement

Argos is a unique worldwide location and data collection system dedicated to studying and protecting the environment.

Through the Argos Joint Tariff Agreement (JTA), Argos users, represented by stakeholders who attend JTA meetings, can negotiate the policies governing the Argos system, such as costs to users, data processing, and data distribution.

The Argos Joint Tariff Agreement (JTA) provides for an international mechanism to seek for cost-effective location and data processing of data collected through the Argos system. The JTA is functioning through stakeholders whose roles are mainly to negotiate the Argos service level and tariff, and ensure appropriate coordination among Argos users in order to represent their collective interests with regard to Argos tariff and requirements.



Regular meeting of the JTA

The JTA meeting consists of deliberative sessions over 2 days.The desired outcome of the JTA Session is to be an open forum for all members to discuss and agree by consensus on any matter that affects their use of the ARGOS satellite data communications and processing system.

There is an open invitation to all members of all stakeholder groups to attend the JTA annual meeting. However, official invitation by the IOC and WMO will be made to the following:

  • Representatives of Country (ROCs) representing a country or a group of countries from responsible government organizations using Argos
  • Responsible Organizations (ROs) representing an agreed set of Argos user programmes
  • Representatives of the Argos satellite system operator and service provider
  • Representatives of the Argos Operations Committee (OPSCOM)

Role of CLS

 CLS’s role with regards to Argos and the JTA : :

  • to report to the JTA on developments and operations, related to the use and performances of the system;
  • to report to the JTA on overall costs and recovery of expenditures through service charges; this includes, in particular, the preparation of and the annual assessment of the JTA Five Year Plan (FYP);
  • to collect requirements from the user community and implement required solutions when possible;
  • to interface with the participating space agencies to assist in providing system upgrades if requested;
  • to interface with manufacturers to certify their transmitter products and to provide engineering assistance to them to insure their hardware operates correctly and efficiently with the Argos system, thereby increasing and optimizing ARGOS system usage;
  • to develop and maintain the ground system and the Global data processing centres;
  • to operate the ARGOS ground segment;
  • to operate the Global processing centres under quality of service agreements  and deliver data collected to the user community according to international standard data exchange requirements and protocols;
  • to perform multiple levels of quality of control on the data;
  • to store all data processed for a duration of 12 months and to make it easily extractable in response to user requests;
  • to monitor and control the overall performances of the systems so as to guarantee the level of quality and continuity of service;
  • to promote the use of the ARGOS system and market new user communities, with the goal of minimizing the cost of using Argos;
  • to support users through responsive customer service for any request, claim or declaration of equipment;
  • to support the JTA Executive Committee in JTA management and operations;
  • to support ROCs and ROs as needed especially by facilitating access to and interaction between them and the user communities.

Key Milestones

Argos is the product of a close and long-standing cooperation between the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States of America and the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) of France.The first cooperation between NOAA and CNES for the implementation and the use of Argos is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 1974 and the second in 1986. Under the MoU, CNES is responsible inter alia for the Argos data processing system. Service Argos, the CNES department in charge of Argos operations, was entrusted with performing that task.Since 1986, CLS provides services and processes Argos data.

  • A “Tariff MoU” was adopted by NOAA and CNES on 14 December 1979.
    ln this MoU, NOAA and CNES agreed on Terms and Conditions covering user charges for platform location and data processing associated with the implementation and testing of platforms communicating through the Argos System. A Committee, with equal representation from NOAA and CNES, was established to review the Terms and Conditions as appropriate on a yearly basis.The objective of this cooperative effort was to provide fair, cost-effective and simple procedures for United States users of the system. Programmes eligible for the preferential tariff under this agreement were limited to those funded by the government and/or non-profit agencies. Users funded, even partly, by private companies or organizations could not be included in the agreement, even if the data were supplied free of charge to national or international organizations.
  • In 1981, at WMO EC-XXXIII, the United States recommended that an international agreement be established to provide relatively inexpensive processing costs to all interested countries.
    The main motivation for this recommendation was to expand the World Weather Watch (WWW) in terms of surface pressure measurements in data sparse regions, with possible additional advantages of a more timely and accurate mobile ship programme and more information for the Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS). WMO convened the First Argos Joint Tariff Agreement (JTA) Meeting in Geneva (December 1981). Invitations were sent to all WMO Members. Nine countries participated and common Terms and Conditions, patterned after the U.S. agreement, were adopted under the name “Global Agreement”.
  • In February 1984, IOC EC-XVII proposed, and WMO agreed to host the annual JTA meeting in turn with WMO.
    Beginning with the fifth meeting, and continuing today, the JTA meeting is served by the two Secretariats at once. The JTA has proven to be an effective, constructive and cooperative organizing and negotiating mechanism which has contributed significantly to the stability of the Argos system and its globally expanded applications.

JTA stakeholders

  • Representatives of Country (ROCs)

ROCs are representing a country or a group of countries from responsible government organizations using Argos. Their role is to ensure that the Argos system meets the basic requirements of all system user groups in the most cost-effective way within the principles of fairness, openness and the promotion of science.

  • Responsible Organizations (ROs)

An RO is the Responsible Organization representing an agreed set of Argos User programs for the purposes of their collective participation in the JTA. The concept of RO can accommodate groups of countries such as E-SURFMAR, as well as large individual programmes as necessary or convenient. The functions of an RO are to of consolidated estimates of Argos usage for the annual JTA budget planning and negotiation of tariff Terms and Condition, to represent the collective interests of the User programs in respect of the Argos service provision and forward planning. An RO would also provide local support for Argos applications, and facilitate the interface between CLS Argos interface and the User programs for which the RO is responsible.

  • Representative of a User Group (RUG)

A RUG is an individual who can fairly represent the overall consensus view of a significant Argos JTA user community. Such communities include the operators of data buoys, floats, ice platforms, animal tags, land stations, ship stations and airborne stations, or bodies with agreed international responsibilities for the promotion, sponsorship or validation of any aspect of environmental observation using Argos (e.g. IOC, WMO, WWF). The RUG will work with CLS and the JTA Executive Committee to identify opportunities that might bring the JTA session into closer contact with his/her user group, with a view to establishing within that group the benefits of the JTA process.

  • The Argos Operations Committee (OPSCOM)

The OPSCOM was established by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States of America, and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France, who affirmed their desire to conduct a space applications project of mutual interest for peaceful purposes. The OPSCOM in particular reviews the Argos Data Collection System development and implementation activities and recommends to the Project Managers and the signatories to the MoU appropriate measures for accomplishing the objectives of the project.

  • The WMO and IOC Secretariats

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO recognize that satellite data telecommunication systems are important components for the implementation and sustainability of global environmental observing networks operated by the Members/Member States of the two Organizations in remote areas, including the global ocean. WMO and IOC endorse the JTA as one mechanism to address the requirements of WMO and IOC Programmes and Co-sponsored Programmes, in particular in terms of satellite data collection and related data processing, quality control, data encoding according to international standards, and data distribution to their end users.

  • CLS Argos interface

CLS is the designated agent of the French space agency CNES to operate the ARGOS system ground segment and to promote the use of it. Those Argos basic services are provided at cost to the users under the oversight of the Argos Operation Committee (CNES, NOAA, EUMETSAT).