On Friday, TechFreedom filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) looking to establish rules to allow Supplemental Coverage from Space (SCS) on terrestrial frequencies. In crafting these new rules, the FCC should be guided by two words: Innovation and Interference.

“This proceeding paves the way for a new era in space communications based on innovation and interference tolerance,” said James E. Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “For the first time, space assets can help close the digital divide. With the right rules, the FCC can usher in a world where space-based and Earth-based systems can coexist and supplement each other in an interference-tolerated system. But the FCC must reward innovation, not further entrench incumbents with rules that give them all the negotiating power.”

“The FCC should reward innovators, not incumbents,” Dunstan continued. “The FCC’s proposal would reward incumbent terrestrial licensees rather than the innovators who pioneered these technologies. This sends the wrong message to those seeking innovative approaches to space communications. It would paralyze new efforts to develop such technologies. The Commission should revisit whether some form of a Pioneer’s Preference could help reward the space communications innovators.”

“The FCC should only grant SCS authorizations to U.S. licensees,” Dunstan concluded. “Whatever wisdom there may have been for an ‘open skies’ policy allowing foreign licensees access to U.S. markets, such a policy is not applicable here. The extensive coordination and integration SCS will require with terrestrial systems supports licensing U.S. entities only. Moreover, the FCC’s ‘open skies’ policies have led to a flight offshore to seek licenses from jurisdictions that have neither expertise nor inclination to protect the public interest or our outer space treaty obligations. This flight has included many U.S. companies, who have found ‘flag of convenience’ jurisdictions that will license their operations far quicker and more cheaply than can the FCC. Entertaining market access petitions for SCS will further exacerbate this flight.”


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About TechFreedom: TechFreedom is a nonprofit, nonpartisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.