November 25, 2015 - 12:32 pm
By Tom Wheeler | FCC Chairman

Over the course of my career I have witnessed many instances where regulatory delay and burdensome red tape slowed the pace of innovation and hampered investment in the communications sector, which plays such a vital role in our country's economic growth. That's why one of my first steps as Chairman was to launch a comprehensive review of the Commission's operations, with the goal of streamlining processes, updating or removing outdated rules, and generally improving how the agency conducts its businesses. Next month, the Commission will consider two new initiatives in this ongoing effort.

Already, we've seen significant improvements to the agency's operations. Commission staff have made substantial progress on reducing matters pending for more than six months, processing license applications and renewals, disposing of petitions for reconsideration and applications for review, and closing open dockets. One of the most obvious reforms was overhauling the consumer complaint process. We opened a new complaint portal early this year, and continue to make enhancements in the data being made available publicly regarding the complaints filed here at the FCC.

One area of focus had been modernizing Part 25 of the Commission's rules, which governs licensing and operation of space stations and earth stations for the provision of satellite communications services. Led by our International Bureau, the Commission has already revised or eliminated numerous Part 25 rule provisions.

Last week, I circulated to my colleagues an Order making further changes to our Part 25 rules. This proposal would make the regulatory approval process for satellite licenses easier and more efficient, significantly reducing regulatory burdens and costs. The Second Report and Order streamlines, clarifies, eliminates, or amends rules to allow for more operational flexibility and better accommodate evolving technology while easing administrative burdens on licensees and Commission staff.

While the Commission is committed to eliminating outdated, unnecessary rules to let the marketplace work, we must also preserve rules needed to protect consumers and competition. A second item to be considered at the Commission's next open meeting strikes that balance.

The Commission will vote on an order partially granting a petition for forbearance filed by United States Telecom Association from various rules governing incumbent local phone companies, particularly the three remaining "Baby Bells". These rules were adopted to protect or expand competition, but technological and market conditions have changed dramatically, making many of these rules outdated. Removing them will promote the ability of local phone companies to build out broadband and invest in modern and efficient networks. At the same time, our action preserves rules that remain necessary to protect consumers and competition.

These proposals are just the latest evidence that the Commission takes a common-sense approach to regulation, and will eliminate outdated, unnecessary rules to let the marketplace work, while taking the necessary steps to ensure consumers are protected.