Statement of Chairman Julius Genachowski
Re: In the Matter of 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
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 much
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 reform.
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
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.