The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) is the U.S. government agency established by Congress under the Communications Act of 1934 for the purpose of regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. As part of its responsibilities in authorizing commercial satellite communications, the FCC also reviews issues related to mitigation of orbital debris.
In April 2023, the FCC established the Space Bureau, reorganizing the functions of the Satellite Division in the FCC’s former International Bureau (IB) into a new, stand-alone bureau. Through its policy and licensing responsibilities, the Space Bureau promotes a competitive and innovative global satellite and space-based communications marketplace.
In furtherance of this objective, the Space Bureau has undertaken a Transparency Initiative, as directed by the Commission (IB Docket No. 22-411 & 22-271). The goal is to provide interested parties with user-friendly information and guidance regarding the Commission’s space station and earth station application and authorization procedures. The initiative covers a variety of topics, including application completeness, orbital debris requirements, and inter-bureau and inter-agency coordination. Additionally, the Space Bureau plans to release an updated version of its electronic filing database (the International Communications Filing System, or ICFS), which will include multiple forms of guidance for users, including training videos for the ICFS application process and a helpful links page.
Note: The former International Bureau Filing System (IBFS), which is the electronic filing database used for all space and earth station applications under part 25 and for international services and cable landing applications, was renamed as the International Communications Filing System after the reorganization of the FCC’s International Bureau into the Space Bureau and the Office of International Affairs (OIA). Establishment of the Space Bureau and the Office of International Affairs and Reorganization of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and the Office of the Managing Director, Docket No. 23-12, Order, FCC-23-1, para. 8 (Jan. 9, 2023).