The Federal Communications Commission regulates numerous industries and practices related to telecommunications and the Internet, but is now firming up its role as a space regulator by voting to create a brand new agency specialized in the subject.
Bureaux are the departments of the bureau that deal with various industries: media, wireless, consumer, and so on, as well as enforcement and the like. They are full of specialists who research and produce the rules and advisories of the FCC.
The newly established Space Bureau will, among other things, handle all matters related to satellite approval, orbital communications and space debris. These are things the agency was already doing, but now they have a new, more effective organization to put them in.
“The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our licensing regulatory frameworks have not kept pace. We are working to change that,” said chairman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement.
The current International Bureau is being cannibalized to form it, but it sounds more like an upgrade than a dissolution. While the FCC voted unanimously today to form the new agency, it needs additional congressional approvals and some other formalities before it is finalized, but you can bet they are already moving the agencies and creating new chat channels Startup.
Here’s how the FCC put it in their order:
As part of this reorganization, the Space Agency will promote a competitive and innovative global telecommunications market through space services. The space agency will do this by conducting policy analysis and regulation and authorizing satellite systems to facilitate the deployment of satellite services, streamline regulatory processes and maximize flexibility for operators to meet customer needs, and promote the efficient use of spectrum and orbital means. The Space Bureau will also serve as a focal point for coordination with other U.S. government agencies on space policy and governance, and will support the Office of International Affairs for meetings with foreign countries, international organizations, and foreign government officials related to space policy. .
It may seem a little strange that the FCC regulates space, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The agency is responsible for regulating broadcasting, especially between states (making it the natural regulator for Internet stuff), and satellites transmit a lot of data. In fact, with hundreds or thousands more per year, they are probably one of the fastest growing sources of data transmission.
While the FAA, NASA and the Pentagon also have their fingers in this pie, the FCC is the right tool for the job when it comes to making sure orbital platforms don’t interfere with each other or surface communications. (How far that orbit extends, however, is an open question.)
But until recently, space was a fairly small niche in their work. Now they handle satellite approval applications from hundreds of companies and research centers, manage the spectrum for networks of thousands of Comsats, and try to make sure all this wireless traffic doesn’t drown out anything important. Then there’s the whole space junk thing, which is another story. But also important.
In any case, it makes perfect sense for the FCC to build out a space-oriented agency that, as part of its job, negotiates and cooperates with other countries – the job of the old International Bureau. We’ll hear more about it it if the official milestones are reached in the coming months.