Court Shifts to Virtual Oral Argument in Viasat v. FCC

A gavel in a stock photo
(Image credit: Witthaya Prasongsin via Getty Images)

Friday's (Dec. 3) oral argument in the case of Viasat v. FCC has been changed to a remote affair, according to an announcement on the website of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The move is likely part of the government's efforts to head off the new Omicron COVID-19 variant that has now moved to the United States.

In 2018 the FCC approved SpaceX's request to operate 4,425 satellites to deliver broadband via its Starlink-branded service, a figure the agency subsequently reduced to 2,824 satellites when it also allowed for lower Earth orbit operations.

Also: Satellite Companies Pitch FCC on High-Flying Video Streaming

Competing satellite-delivered broadband operator Viasat challenged the decision on the grounds that the FCC did not conduct a sufficient environmental review. The FCC said it did.

Dish Network, which is a party to the suit, challenged the FCC‘s conclusion that those satellites, operating in the 12-GHz band, will not interfere with its operations.

The FCC has been approving satellite broadband business plans as a way to promote broadband adoption and competition. ■

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.