Today, TechFreedom filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) addressing standards for spectrum sharing among non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) operators. Our comments explain why the Commission should proceed with caution in this rulemaking, as many fundamental questions still need to be asked. 

“The Commission should’ve issued a Notice of Inquiry rather than a Further Notice of Rulemaking,” said James E. Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “The FNPRM asks more than two dozen distinct questions but proposes no actual rules. Many of these questions involve critical and complicated engineering analyses along with complex policy decisions—making it simply impossible for commenters to provide meaningful comments that could lead to actual rules as a next step in this proceeding. This pattern denies interested parties the adequate opportunity to shape the FCC’s proposal, insofar as the FCC merges analysis of basic legal questions with analysis of highly technical, yet unarticulated, rules into a single round of comments.” 

“The ‘gym membership’ model for satellite spectrum isn’t sustainable,” Dunstan continued. “The Commission’s approach to spectrum sharing for satellite services seems to favor an approach similar to gym memberships: Invite as many people as possible and hope that only a small fraction of those paying actually use the facilities. It’s understandable why the Commission should continue to think this way, since several generations of NGSO systems failed to materialize, even after the Commission granted multiple licenses in the 1990s. However, with launch cost and satellite production costs a fraction of what they were decades ago, it remains likely that many, if not most, of the proposed systems will come to fruition.”

“The Commission should use all available tools to seek input on these issues,” Dunstan concluded. “Simply inviting comments and reply comments won’t provide the record the FCC needs to promulgate effective spectrum sharing rules. The Commission should convene stakeholder workshops and other mechanisms to tease out the critical issues that appear somewhat preordained in the FNPRM. Yes, the Commission needs to move quickly to maintain U.S. leadership in space and provide certainty that will allow for speedy licensing of new NGSO systems. But these are tough engineering questions that need to be evaluated fully in order to ensure functional and efficient interference standards.” 


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