WASHINGTON – November 3, 2022 – Today, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a plan to reorganize the agency to better support the needs of the growing satellite industry, promote long-term technical capacity at the FCC, and navigate 21st century global communications policy. Under this plan, Chairwoman Rosenworcel will work to reorganize the FCC’s International Bureau into a new Space Bureau and a standalone Office of International Affairs. These changes will help ensure that the FCC’s resources are better aligned so that the agency can continue to fulfill its statutory obligations and keep pace with the rapidly changing realities of the satellite industry and global communications policy.
“The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our regulatory
frameworks for licensing them have not kept up. Over the past two years the agency has
received applications for 64,000 new satellites. In addition, we are seeing new commercial
models, new players, and new technologies coming together to pioneer a wide-range of new
satellite services and space-based activities that need access to wireless airwaves,” said
Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “Today, I announced a plan to build on this success and prepare
for what comes next. A new Space Bureau at the FCC will ensure that the agency’s resources
are appropriately aligned to fulfill its statutory obligations, improve its coordination across the
federal government, and support the 21st century satellite industry.”
The Commission licenses radio frequency uses by satellites and ensures that space systems
reviewed by the agency have sufficient plans to mitigate orbital debris under the authority of
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. By establishing a stand-alone Space Bureau the
agency aims to better fulfill its statutory obligations and elevate the significance of satellite
programs and policy within the agency to a level that reflects the importance of the emerging
space economy. By separating satellite policy from the “International Bureau,” the agency
acknowledges the role of satellite communications in advancing domestic communications
policy and achieving U.S. broadband goals.
Lastly, the goal of establishing a stand-alone Office of International Affairs will allow relevant
experts to focus specifically on matters of international communications regulation and
licensing as we enter a new era of global communications policy. Additionally, this structure
emulates the successful models of offices such as Office of Engineering and Technology, and
Office of General Counsel that allows for consistent expertise to be leveraged across all the
Bureaus with a nexus to international affairs.