FCC Mulls Space Bureau As It Faces 64,000 Satellite Applications

7th Nov 2022
FCC Mulls Space Bureau As It Faces 64,000 Satellite Applications

US Federal Communications Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced on 3rd November a proposed reorganization of the FCC. Speaking at a Satellite Industry Association (SIA) sponsored event at the Washington Press Club, Rozenworcel stated that the Commission wants to break up the current International Bureau into two entities. One, the Office of International Affairs, would focus on terrestrial matters with other countries. The other, called Space Bureau, would focus on the burgeoning field of space-borne communications.

The need for Space Bureau

At the SIA meeting, Rosenworcel noted that the Commission lagged behind the explosion in licenses received.

“Today, the FCC has 64,000 applications for new satellites,” Rosenworcel stated. “But it is not just satellites. Last year we also saw an eight-fold increase in the number of applications for fixed satellite service gateway earth stations filed at the agency. On top of that, we are seeing new applications for novel space activities like lunar landers, space tugs that can deploy other satellites and space antenna farms that can relay communications.”

The Commission, she stated, is lagging the industry’s increasing activity and needs to reorganize in order to keep up with demand. Breaking up the Office of International Affairs into terrestrial and space units within the Commission would better reflect the current needs of the industry.

Laws of Humans and Physics

Industry insiders also see the need for the Commission and its counterparts to serve an increasing number of commercial operators. With the number of users rising, the pressure on regulators will also increase as will requirements for new frequency allocations and permissions for new types of services. “We are limited by the laws of physics. The amount of bandwidth to the Moon hasn’t changed,” Goonhilly Earth Station CTO Matt Cosby remarked to OT while discussing the increase in the need for space links. Regulation needs to reflect this.

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