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FCC considers satellite rule overhaul

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed revisions to rules governing non-geostationary (GEO) satellites, potentially making it easier for newcomers to operate Low Earth Orbit (LEO) birds.

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted today (14 December) proposes ending interference protections granted to existing operators of non-GEO satellite services.

The agency is seeking public feedback on methods to enable coordination among relevant satellite operators by requiring them to share information including satellite beam pointing data.

In addition, the FCC will consider limiting existing spectrum sharing mechanisms to operators approved in the same processing round. Satellite systems subsequently approved would be required to protect those cleared earlier.

The FCC noted its proposal grants part of a petition made by SpaceX, which is deploying satellites for broadband services and backhaul for mobile operators.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel endorsed the “entrepreneurial activity in our skies” and told a meeting the agency “needs to make changes” to accommodate this.

Rosenworcel noted existing rules were put into place when almost all spacecraft were launched by the government, contributing to a “first mover advantage”, which the FCC will consider mitigating.

She noted a need to strike a balance between rewarding entrepreneurial initiative and encouraging competition. Mobile World Live

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