FCC's Pai Proposes Granting OneWeb Broadband Service Access

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has scheduled a number of broadband and cable-related items for the June 22 public meeting including paving the way for a new satellite broadband effort.

That is according to the chairman's blog and a summary of the agenda released Thursday.

Pai is proposing approving a declaratory ruling granting OneWeb's request to target the U.S. market as part of a global satellite-delivered broadband service. OneWeb board members include Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Qualcomm executive chairman Paul Jacobs. Investors include Qualcomm, Virgin and Hughes. 

"One of our top priorities remains promoting broadband competition and deployment," said Pai. "Accordingly, we will vote on an order paving the way for the company OneWeb to provide broadband services using satellite technology that holds unique promise to expand Internet access in remote and rural areas." 

OneWeb plans on using a constellation of nongeostationary satellites (648 of them at last count) to blanket the planet.

Rural broadband deployment is one of Pai's signature issues.

The FCC is also scheduled to vote on a notice of inquiry (NOI) seeking input on ways to facilitate greater consumer choice and enhance broadband deployment in multiple-tenant environments including multiple dwelling units (MDUs) like apartments, condos and shopping malls.  

The notice seeks comment on "the current state of broadband competition in such locations and whether additional Commission action in this area is warranted to eliminate or reduce barriers faced by broadband providers that seek to serve the occupants of multiple tenant environments."

In addition, the commission will vote on a declaratory ruling allowing cable operators to provide annual subscriber notices via email, clarifying that "written information" doesn't require killing any trees. Pai called that "consistent with our work to streamline outdated and unnecessary rules."

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.