Advanced Television

FCC: A pledge for satellites and the new space age

March 21, 2024

By Chris Forrester

Jessica Rosenworcel, chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) addressed for the second year in a row the Satellite Industry Association at the Annual Leadership Dinner being held at the Washington Satellite 2024 event. She told delegates how the FCC’s new Space Bureau, established just a year previous, was now issuing licences for lunar communications, a first for the FCC.

But, she said, there was so much more including responding to the threats from Russia and China.

“It has become clearer than ever before that leadership in the skies is essential for global leadership in the 21st century. But when it comes to the capability of our satellite networks, to stand still is to lose ground,” she said. “So, here’s my pledge to you: The FCC will do everything in its power to make sure the US continues to set the pace in space—both for our economy and our national security.”

Rosenworcel also spoke about terrestrial connectivity from space. “Just last week, the FCC voted to create a spectrum framework for supplemental coverage from space. This will make it easier for satellite operators to partner with wireless carriers so our smartphones can stay connected through satellites when there is no signal on the ground. We are doing this because we understand that combining space-based networks and terrestrial wireless networks can accomplish more together than either can do on its own. Together they have the power to end dead zones. Plus, our networks will be more resilient and communications more available whenever disaster strikes. This is a big deal.”

“In the US we were the first to land on the moon and now we are the first to clear the way for the combination of terrestrial and space-based communications. It may seem nothing like the giant leap forward that Neil Armstrong described, but its consequences are no less profound,” she explained.

She continued: “In the Single Network Future, we will connect everyone, everywhere. But to do it we can’t limit ourselves to using only one technology. We are going to need it all—fibre networks, licensed terrestrial wireless systems, next-generation unlicensed wireless technology, and satellite broadband, seamlessly interacting in a way that is invisible to the user. To be clear, this vision does not work without satellites. The way I see it, satellites may be in our skies, but they are the anchor tenant in our communications future.”

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