FCC Considers Opening Skies Wide for Satellite Broadband

The FCC's November meeting will primarily be variations on a satellite theme, with a focus on opening up the skies for satellite-delivered broadband. November is being billed as "space month" at the commission.

The FCC released its tentative agenda for the Nov. 15 open meeting and nine of the 11 items deal with satellites, from mitigating space debris and boosting GPS to constellations of low-earth orbit non-geostationary satellites operated by SpaceX, Kepler, Telesat and LeoSat. The FCC is voting on a package of final orders on those proposals, and the chairman is certainly on record as wanting to promote satellite broadband.

The SpaceX proposal is to deploy and operate a worldwide broadband delivery service using those satellites, while Kepler, Telesat and LeoSat all want access to the U.S. market for their similar broadband-delivering geostationary constellations to connect the global internet of things. LeoSat also wants to provide enterprise (business) service.

Back in February, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recommended to the other commissioners that they approve an application by SpaceX to launch a global, satellite-delivered broadband service.

Google was a big investor in SpaceX, presumably to get in on the satellite broadband play.

The FCC has already approved applications by satellite companies OneWeb and SpaceNorway for access to U.S. markets.

Also on the docket are two items proposing to streamline satellite regulations, one to streamline space and earth station licensing to aid the satellite broadband effort, and the other to "align" DBS licensing with that of geostationary fixed-satellite service.

The outliers on the list are a report and order item on modernizing MVPD consumer notices by allowing them to send communications to subs via email rather than snail mail and one on hearing aid-compatible wireless handsets.

Blogging on the items, the chairman, who is a big fan of pop culture allusions, said: "Some might say that nine space-related items on the agenda for a monthly meeting is overdoing it. During Space Month, I would instead say that we have dared to boldly go where no FCC has gone before."

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.