On Friday, TechFreedom filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing changes to the processing of satellite and earth station applications. We believe the Commission should work closely with industry to craft entirely new systems for the twenty-first century that meet the needs of the commercial space sector and free Commission staff to process applications in a more timely manner.

“This new space race is in the commercial sector, but governments play a key role,” said James E. Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “In order to establish a cis-lunar economy, and better reap the scientific and economic benefit of space resources, governments will have to provide both a stable and frictionless regulatory system. Get this wrong, and America will see companies flee for jurisdictions that are more conducive to the commercial space sector.”

“The FCC’s regulatory system is antiquated, analog, and antithetical to the concept of a frictionless regulatory system,” Dunstan continued. “The Commission’s licensing regime for satellite systems can’t keep pace with the commercial space sector. Both applicants and competitors can game the system to slow down licensing, and FCC staff is burdened with having to pore over applications manually and then work with applicants to correct errors that the application process itself should flag automatically. The NPRM recognizes these shortfalls but offers only incremental solutions.” 

“The Commission should adopt shot clocks for all applications,” Dunstan concluded. “The Commission should commit to timely reviewing applications. Nothing adds more friction to a regulatory system than agency delay in acting on applications. These shot clocks should apply to all applications, not just those that the Commission deems ‘straightforward’ or ‘routine.’ Applying shot clocks only to ‘easy’ applications will stifle the cycle of innovation which has characterized the last decade of NGSO deployment and leave the United States vulnerable to foreign entities seeking to dominate the cis-lunar system.”


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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.