FCC Moves to 'Harmonize' Earth-Station-in-Motion Rules

WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission today said it “took steps to streamline, consolidate, and harmonize rules governing earth stations used to provide satellite-based services on ships, airplanes and vehicles. The action proposes additional flexibility for this fast-growing segment of the satellite communications market.

Currently, the regulation of these earth stations, collectively known as ‘earth stations in motion’ (ESIMs), varies depending on the type of vehicle to which they are attached and are covered in various rule provisions.”

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today (but not yet available online), “proposes to integrate the three types of earth stations in motion into a single regulatory category. [It]also proposes rules to allow for blanket licensing in additional frequency bands—the conventional Ka-band— which will offer additional flexibility to ESIMs.”

The available commission documents on the docket include a press release and a Public Notice on April 27 that the docket, No.17-75, was opened. So far, SES Americom, Inmarsat/Echostar, Iridium and ViaSat have filed comments.

According to the commission, the proposed changes would “simplify the regulatory approval process for ESIMs, reduce the burden on applicants and increase efficiency in processing applications.”