First House Communications Hearing Is for Birds

Capitol Building

The Republican-led House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Democratic FCC chair are on the same page when it comes to the importance of satellite communications.

Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said Thursday (Jan. 26) that the first Communications Subcommittee hearing of the new Congress will be on “ensuring America continues to lead in the burgeoning satellite communications industry,” adding, “Next-generation satellite technologies are revolutionizing the communications marketplace, [y]et many of our nation’s laws and regulations haven’t been updated in decades.”

The hearing will be Thursday, February 2, and while witnesses have yet to be announced, the FCC chair clearly has some thoughts on the subject that square with Rodgers.

Also: FCC Approves OneWeb

Earlier this month, the FCC under chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel voted unanimously to create a Space Bureau.

“The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our regulatory frameworks for licensing have not kept up,” Rosenworcel said after the vote. “We’re working to change that … A new Space Bureau at the FCC will ensure that the agency's resources are appropriately aligned to fulfill its statutory obligations, improve its coordination across the federal government, and support the 21st-century satellite industry.”

The FCC under both Republican and Democratic chairs has supported the deployment of constellations of low earth orbit satellite (LEOs) — OneWeb, SpaceX — to provide broadband competition to terrestrial providers. ■

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.