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Rosenworcel sets up new Space Bureau for FCC

Rosenworcel at ITU.jpg

US telecoms regulator Jessica Rosenworcel has announced plans to set up a Space Bureau in order to focus resources on the demand for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

Rosenworcel (pictured), chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), told the National Press Club in Washington DC that she wants to reorganise the agency to better support the needs of the growing satellite industry, promote long-term technical capacity regulator, and navigate global communications policy.

“Just as the FCC helped with the launch of the first communications satellite into orbit sixty years ago, we are now working to make sure the agency can support new space activity and continued US leadership in the growing space economy,” she said via Twitter.

The FCC’s Space Bureau will be carved out of the existing International Bureau, and she will create a successor Office of International Affairs.

“The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our regulatory frameworks for licensing them have not kept up. Over the past two years the agency has received applications for 64,000 new satellites,” she said at the Washington meeting.

“In addition, we are seeing new commercial models, new players, and new technologies coming together to pioneer a wide-range of new satellite services and space-based activities that need access to wireless airwaves.”

The FCC noted in its report of the briefing that “this is an unofficial announcement of Commission action”, implying that executive action is needed to turn Rosenworcel’s wishes into reality.

She said: “A new Space Bureau at the FCC will ensure that the agency’s resources are appropriately aligned to fulfil its statutory obligations, improve its coordination across the federal government, and support the 21st century satellite industry.”

The FCC still works under the authority of the Communications Act of 1934, signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt, long before there were satellites, the internet or even television.

The FCC said that, by separating satellite policy from the International Bureau, the “agency acknowledges the role of satellite communications in advancing domestic communications policy and achieving US broadband goals”.

The new Office of International Affairs “will allow relevant experts to focus specifically on matters of international communications regulation and licensing as we enter a new era of global communications policy”, said the agency.