The Federal Communications CommissionIt regulates many industries and practices that are related to communications and the Internet. However, it is now strengthening its role as the space regulator By voting to create an entirely new officeSpecialist in the subject matter.
The offices are the different departments of the agency that deal in different areas of industry like media, wireless and consumer, enforcement, and the like. They are full professionals who research and issue guidelines and rules issued by the FCC.
The new space office will manage all aspects of satellite approval, orbital communications, space debris, and other matters. These are tasks that the agency already did, but now they have a new and more efficient organization to handle them.
“The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on Earth, it hasn’t kept up with our licensing regulatory frameworks. We’re working to change that,” President Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
The existing IB will be dismantled in order to create the new office. However, it appears that this is more of an upgrade rather than a solution. The FCC approved the creation of the new office unanimously today. It will still need additional congressional approvals before it becomes final. However, you can bet that it is already moving offices around and running new chat channels.
Here’s how they are ranked by the FCC:
The Space Office will be promoting a global communications market that is innovative and competitive through space services under this reorganization. The Space Office will perform policy analysis and rule-making and authorize satellite systems. This is to facilitate satellite services deployment, streamlining regulatory processes, maximising flexibility for operators to meet customer requirements, and optimizing the use of spectrum and orbital resource. The Office of Space is also a focal point for coordination and governance with other US government agency on matters of space policy. It will also support Office of International Affairs for meetings and discussions with other countries, international organisations, and foreign government officials involved in space policy matters.
Although it may seem strange that the FCC regulates space, it makes perfect sense. The agency regulates transmissions between states, which makes them the natural regulators of internet-related matters. Satellites transmit lots of data. It is, in fact, one of the fastest growing sources for data transmission with hundreds of thousands or more new users each year.
While NASA, the Pentagon, and FAA have their fingers in the pie, the FCC is the most effective tool when it comes ensuring that orbital stations don’t interfere or disrupt surface communications. (Although how far this work extends is an open question.)
Space was a niche that they worked in until recently. They now send approval requests via satellite from hundreds companies and research centers, manage spectrum for Comsats’ thousands-strong networks, as well as trying to ensure that all that wireless traffic is not used for any illegal purposes. There’s also the space debris issue, which is another story. It is nevertheless important.
In any case, it makes perfect sense for the FCC to build a space-focused bureau that, as part of its job, negotiates and cooperates with other countries—the old IB’s job. We’ll learn more about it. These are the official milestones that will be reached in the next months.
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