WASHINGTON — A U.S. Federal Communications Commission requirement that developers of non-geostationary-orbit (NGSO) satellite systems provide full coverage of the United States to get market access has prospective megaconstellation operators pitted against each other.
The FCC, in a notice of proposed rulemaking that closed Jan. 29, asked for input on whether it should maintain the nationwide coverage requirement, noting that some proposed systems are not designed to reach all of the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
OneWeb, with investors Intelsat and Hughes, and Alaska’s governor were alone in showing favor for the rule. On Jan. 29, the three companies wrote the FCC saying that removing the rule would negatively impact the development of rural connectivity.
“The Commission must not abandon its duty to facilitate broadband access for rural parts of the United States, relying solely upon the premise that this would make it cheaper or easier for a few NGSO [fixed satellite service] operators to design and build their systems,” the companies wrote. “This would be an arbitrary and capricious agency action that fails to properly account for the public interest and runs counter to record evidence demonstrating that the domestic coverage rule will help bridge the digital divide across the United States.”
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