FCC Terminates Sat Warehousing and Vertical Foreclosure Proceeding

Last week the FCC announced that it was terminating proceedings that stemmed from its 2013 issuance of a Notice of Inquiry initiated to explore allegations that certain fixed satellite service (FSS) operators were: (1) "warehousing" satellite orbital locations and frequency assignments, and (2) foreclosing competitors from purchasing capacity on their satellites (vertical foreclosure).

That docket was opened to build a record that would allow the FCC to evaluate claims of anti-competitive behavior that were originally raised in the context of the Eleventh Orbit Act Report to Congress on the privatization of Intelsat and Inmarsat.

Several "integrators" alleged that following recent consolidation and vertical integration by FSS providers, they were being foreclosed from securing satellite bandwidth capacity and as such were less able to compete against FSS providers, resulting in harm to government and corporate customers.

Only four comments were filed in response to the Notice of Inquiry. These came from Intelsat License LLC, SES S.A. and the Satellite Industry Association. Joint comments were filed by EchoStar and its wholly owned subsidiary Hughes Network Services, LLC.

Regarding the vertical foreclosure questions, Intelsat and SES stated that further action by the Commission was unwarranted. No integrator or other potentially affected party filed comments on this issue. As expected, all of these commenters generally agreed that the warehousing questions assume a non-competitive industry and that codifying rules in this area would greatly restrict operator flexibility. All four recommended the Commission terminate the warehousing portion of the proceeding.

In an Order released April 15, the FCC terminated the proceeding, stating: "With respect to vertical foreclosure, we close the proceeding given the limits of the record and information on this issue. With respect to the warehousing issues, we conclude that the record does not provide a basis for taking further action at this time."

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.