Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the agency will officially establish a new Space Bureau with a kickoff event scheduled for Tuesday, April 11. The announcement, though largely a symbolic move (it likely will take additional time for the actual reorganization to occur), highlights the agency’s commitment to increasing its role in regulating a fast-growing space economy.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in November announced plans to form the new Space Bureau, which will be spun off from the agency’s International Bureau, the bureau currently responsible for satellite and earth station licensing matters. A new Office of International Affairs will take over the non-space-related duties currently handled by the International Bureau, which will cease to exist following the reorganization.
When Chairwoman Rosenworcel first announced the reorganization, the specific duties contemplated for the new Space Bureau and Office of International Affairs were somewhat unclear. However, today’s announcement provides further detail concerning the respective roles of each new regulatory body:
- Space Bureau (SB). The Space Bureau will handle policy and licensing matters concerning satellite systems and satellite earth stations, as well as other space-based communications and activities. However, the SB will coordinate with the Office of International Affairs to consult with other countries and multi-lateral organizations on international matters concerning satellite and space policy.
- Office of International Affairs (OIA). The new Office of International Affairs will take over the International Bureau’s duties concerning the licensing of international telecommunications facilities and services, including submarine cables. The OIA also will advise the FCC on foreign ownership issues and be responsible for policy matters concerning foreign investment in U.S. international telecommunications markets.
The FCC has taken several space- and satellite-related actions under Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s leadership, including seeking comments on rules that would streamline the licensing process for satellites and earth stations. More recently, the FCC proposed a licensing regime (“Supplemental Coverage from Space”) that would allow satellite systems to access the spectrum of their terrestrial network operator partners.
A kickoff event for the new Space Bureau and Office of International Affairs is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11 at 3:00 p.m. ET at the FCC’s headquarters: 45 L Street, NE in Washington, D.C. The event will be live-streamed at www.fcc.gov/live.