US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to overhaul its existing satellite supervisory framework.
It has proposed to comprehensively simplify and streamline its rules governing satellite communications to make the regulatory approval process for satellite licences easier and more efficient, thereby ultimately benefiting consumers by facilitating introduction of new satellite services, lowering costs and regulatory burdens, and promoting competition among service providers.
The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) has suggested the following changes: facilitate international co-ordination of proposed satellite networks, by permitting early submissions to the International Telecommunication Union; simplify showings associated with milestone requirements and eliminate some of the current milestone requirements; revise the 2° spacing requirements to better accommodate the use of small antennas; and expand options for simplified routine earth station licensing.
Satellite stakeholders applauded the effort. "We welcome the FCC continuing to work with the satellite industry to revise its rules to provide increased flexibility and efficiency to satellite operators," said Jennifer Manner, vice president of regulatory affairs at EchoStar. "We look forward to reviewing [the] notice and providing our comments."
There were more than 1,200 satellites in orbit at the end of last year, and nearly 10% of these were launched since January 2013. The Satellite Industry Association noted that given escalating development, the time was right to smooth the wheels of satellite innovation.
"Given the sustained commitment of the global satellite industry to invest in new technology, and the tens of billions of dollars required to do so, this streamlining action by the commission is as important as it is timely," said Sam Black, acting president of SIA. "Our members look forward to reviewing the commission's proposals."
Black said: "SIA applauds the continuing work of the commission to streamline its regulations and update its processes for the satellite services sector. We appreciate the FCC's efforts to further improve the efficiency of the regulatory environment that has supported the satellite industry's growth over the past decade."