As we turn the page from Summer to Fall, the Commission is looking ahead and looking to the stars for our September agenda. Building on last month’s action to facilitate new space activities like satellite refueling and in-orbit repairs, our September meeting will be headlined by yet another proposal to promote U.S. leadership in the space economy. Here’s everything we’ve lined up for our September meeting.
- We’re ushering in a new era for space safety and clearing the way for sustainable growth for satellite services. One of the biggest threats to the growth of our space economy is risk of junking our skies with space debris that could knock out working satellites. The challenge of managing orbital debris is getting more complex due to an exponential increase in the number of satellites and longstanding international guidelines that allow certain satellites to stay in orbit 25 years after their mission has ended. To mitigate those risks, the Commission will vote on a proposal to update the “25-year rule” and set a new standard of five years to remove satellites from orbit at the end of their missions.
- We’re improving access to communications service for incarcerated people with disabilities. Incarcerated people face considerable barriers to stay in touch with their loved ones, which include nearly 3 million children. The challenge of staying connected is even greater for incarcerated people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or who have a speech disability. Consistent with the FCC’s statutory mandate to make sure people with disabilities have access to telecommunications services that are “functionally equivalent” to what most of us enjoy, no matter where you reside, the Commission will consider a proposal to require prison phone providers to offer greater access to all forms of Relay Services, along with other accessibility measures. This Order also includes measures to inject more fairness in the system, such as a reduction in prison phone rates for ancillary service charges.
- We’re making emergency alerts more accessible to more people, including people with disabilities. Our nation’s Emergency Alert System delivers warnings to TV viewers and radio listeners about natural disasters and other imminent threats. To improve the clarity and accessibility of these warnings, the Commission will vote on rules to induce broadcasters and cable operators to transmit warnings using IP-based formats, which can transmit more information than legacy formats and to make sure the text shown with certain alerts is in “plain English.”
- We’re updating obsolete media rules. Even though the transition to digital television is complete, the Commission’s so-called Part 73 rules for full-power and Class A TV stations still contain multiple references to analog technology. The Commission will vote on a proposal to clean up these rules and replace references to analog with references to digital.