On Wednesday, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would streamline licensing procedures for small satellites. This proposal would expedite the application process and reduce fees for deploying small satellites, which have relatively short duration missions compared to large satellites and therefore should not be regulated in the same manner. The proposal also identifies a variety of frequency bands that are useful for small satellite operations.
It is commendable that the Commission is taking a nuanced approach to reducing the barriers to satellite broadband deployment by specifically identifying how different sized satellites require different regulations and frequency bands. As Free State Foundation Senior Fellow Seth Cooper stated in a March 2018 blog, satellite broadband will enhance competition and help reach new consumers, which is why it is important that the FCC continue to reduce regulatory barriers that stand in the way. And I discussed in a March 2018 Perspectives from FSF Scholars how the increasing capabilities of satellite broadband have enabled it to become a viable alternative for residential broadband in rural areas and could be an important technology for closing the gap of the digital divide.