The FCC has initiated a rulemaking proceeding seeking comments on a comprehensive review of its satellite and earth station licensing and operating rules. The nearly 100-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is the FCC’s first broad reexamination of its Part 25 rules in over fifteen years. Among other items, the FCC’s proposed revisions include:
- Focusing the rules on addressing interference issues and removing unnecessary Commission oversight and regulation of technical decisions.
- Increasing the number of earth station applications eligible for routine and streamlined processing.
- Removing unnecessary reporting rules and consolidating remaining requirements for annual reporting, while improving reporting of emergency contacts.
- Providing greater flexibility to earth station applicants in verifying antenna performance.
- Consolidating and clarifying several of the milestone requirements for space stations.
- Codifying the FCC practice of granting a single earth station license covering multiple antennas located in close proximity to each other.
- Updating, improving, and consolidating definitions and technical terms used throughout Part 25.
With these proposed changes, the FCC hopes to remove administrative burdens on stakeholders and FCC staff, expedite its licensing process, and to facilitate satellite and earth station operations. The comment filing deadlines have not yet been set, but will occur 45 days after the FCC’s rulemaking order is published in the Federal Register. Parties interested in commenting on the FCC’s proposals, or wishing to provide alternative proposals for the FCC to consider, will want to begin gearing up for this proceeding by talking these issues through with counsel to determine what to propose, and how best to present it to the FCC.