FCC establishes new bureau dedicated to satellite industry oversight  

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 31: Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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The Federal Communications Commission has set up a new bureau dedicated to improving the agency’s oversight of the satellite industry.

It is one of two new offices to come out of an internal reorganization at the FCC, which has also created a standalone office of international affairs.

According to the FCC, the changes will help the agency fulfill its statutory obligations and to keep pace with the rapidly changing satellite industry and global communications policy. 

Establishing a standalone Space Bureau will elevate the importance of satellite programs and policy internally, and will also acknowledge the role of satellite communications in advancing domestic communications policy, according to the agency.

Under the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC licenses radio frequency uses by satellites and ensures that space systems reviewed by the agency have sufficient plans to mitigate orbital debris.

The FCC said also that creating the two new separate offices will allow expertise to be more consistently leveraged across the organization’s different bureaus.

Commenting on the reorganization, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said: “The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our regulatory frameworks for licensing them have not kept up.  Over the past two years, the agency has received applications for 64,000 new satellites.  In addition, we are seeing new commercial models, new players, and new technologies coming together to pioneer a wide-range of new satellite services and space-based activities that need access to wireless airwaves.”

“Today, I announced a plan to build on this success and prepare for what comes next,” she added. “A new Space Bureau at the FCC will ensure that the agency’s resources are appropriately aligned to fulfill its statutory obligations, improve its coordination across the federal government, and support the 21st century satellite industry.”

In August, the FCC signed a joint memorandum of understanding with the NTIA aimed at improving the coordination of federal spectrum management and efficient use of radio frequencies. 

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Federal Communications Commission, NTIA, satellites
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