CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKIRe:
Comprehensive Review of Licensing and Operating Rules for Satellite Services,
IB Docket No. 12-267
The FCC and the satellite industry go back to the beginning – a long and successful innovation
Fifty years ago, in 1962, under Chairman Newt Minow, the FCC was instrumental in getting the
first communications satellite licensed by the Commission and launched into space. Since then, the
satellite industry has become a critical piece of our communications ecosystem, employing almost
240,000 Americans and earning more than $175 billion in global revenues in 2011.
Satellites provide essential connectivity to the U.S. media, banking, retail, transportation and
other sectors. They provide international links for businesses and well as families. They’re an integral
part of the global Internet and cloud computing. And their ability to deliver communications services
regardless of terrain or infrastructure is vital to first responders during emergencies and to connecting
people in the most remote parts of America and the world. We estimate that satellites send and receive
over 10 petabytes of data every day for commercial uses alone; including government use, the total is
And new satellite technologies are being developed everyday. I recently visited a start-up in San
Francisco working on incredible satellite innovations related to Earth observation.
Yesterday, I met with Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Space X, the company that’s
revolutionizing commercial space travel. FCC authorizations and licenses are critical to Space X, and in
rapidly approving various applications the FCC has played a positive role in Space X’s early success.
This is central to the mission of the FCC: facilitating innovation and the creation of new services
and, indeed new industries. And we’ll continue to seize opportunities to modernize our rules and
processes to facilitate U.S. leadership in innovation.
Today, the FCC is proposing important steps consistent with this goal. We’re proposing to
modernize, streamline, or eliminate hundreds of rules or subsections governing satellite services. Among
the changes, this Notice includes a shift in the focus of the rules from a “tell us how you built it” approach
to a “tell us how you will avoid interference” approach. It also includes an expansion in the number and
type of licensees that can take advantage of routine processing.
These are common sense changes to improve our rules, making them better for innovators,
entrepreneurs and new entrants, as well as existing companies. This is a core objective of our regulatory
One of my first actions as Chairman was to appoint a Special Counsel for FCC Reform and
charge her and our FCC Reform Team with conducting an agency-wide review of rules and regulations
ripe for updating or elimination. Today, each Bureau incorporates these reviews into all of their planning,
as part of the Commission’s efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. In addition to
eliminating 263 outmoded or unnecessary regulations since January 2010, we have repeatedly updated
and streamlined rules to reflect new technology and promote more efficient decision-making within the
FCC. Based on the incredible work of FCC staff, no prior Commission has a better record.
We’re all committed to smart and sensible regulatory reform, to removing unnecessary burdens
and eliminating barriers to private investment innovation and competition. This Notice is a terrific
implementation of these important goals. I thank the staff of the International Bureau and our FCC
Reform team for their hard work on this Notice.
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