FCC facilitates satellite broadband competition

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed revisions to its rules for spectrum sharing among non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service (NGSO FSS) systems. The proposed revisions would seek to facilitate the deployment of the new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite systems, including new competitors.

According to the FCC, the new generation low-Earth orbit satellite systems can provide broadband services with dramatically higher speeds and lower latency than previous satellite broadband offerings. This technology could be a game-changer for connecting the hardest-to-serve rural households on the wrong side of the digital divide. The proposal would facilitate the deployment of this new technology, promote competition, and make it easier for new competitors to enter the market.

When considering licence applications for NGSO FSS satellite constellations, the FCC’s International Bureau initiates processing rounds during which timely filed applications are considered together on an equal basis. The proposal would establish rules to protect systems approved in earlier rounds while facilitating greater competition.

The adopted Notice of Proposed Rulemaking additionally proposes to limit the Commission’s existing spectrum sharing mechanism for NGSO FSS systems to those systems approved in the same processing round. It proposes requiring systems approved in a later processing round to protect the already approved systems, and seeks public comment on necessary protections.

The FCC also seeks comment on whether to sunset, after a period of time, the interference protection afforded to an NGSO FSS system because of its processing round status in order to encourage new market entry. The item further seeks public input on ways to facilitate coordination among NGSO FSS operators by requiring them to share specific information, such as satellite beam pointing information. The action also grants in part and defers in part a rulemaking petition from SpaceX.


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