Bipartisan Bills Would Goose Satellite Broadband

A communications satellite orbiting Earth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bipartisan leaders in the House Energy & Commerce Committee are praising a pair of new bills that would 1) streamline regulation of satellite broadband buildouts while still providing safety from potential orbital debris and 2) extend terrestrial network security legislation to space.

Committee chair Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), said of the Satellite and Telecommunications Streaming Act: “[W]e must streamline our regulatory processes to unleash innovation while also ensuring our laws fully protect the American public.”

The Satellite and Telecommunications Streamlining Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission to expedite licenses under “measurable and technology-neutral” protections, including collision avoidance, for “space safety and orbital debris.”

Also: Secure Networks Act Passes Senate

It also sets a timetable for the FCC to decide on satellite and earth station applications and allows the agency to automatically grant requests for some times of application modifications.

The Secure Space Act would amend and extend the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act to space by preventing suspect technology providers from accessing to FCC-issued satellite licenses.

The new bill would prevent the FCC from “granting a license or United States market access for a non-geostationary orbit satellite system [the delivery mechanism for satellite broadband] if the license or grant of market access would be held or controlled by an entity that produces or provides any covered communications equipment or service or an affiliate of such an entity.”

"This legislation gives government the keys to ensuring that we continue to lead the world in robust connectivity and in the deployment of new technologies," said FCc Commissioner Nathan Simington. "There is an insatiable hunger for low-latency, high-bandwidth broadband connections in every corner of the U.S. that satellite broadband providers are racing to feed." ▪️

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.