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Iridium asks FCC to remove ‘outdated’ rules

November 19, 2018  - By

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Iridium Satellite Communications Inc. filed comments to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Oct. 29 regarding outdated Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) rules.

The company, operator of the Iridium satellite constellation — 66 low-Earth orbit satellites used for global voice and data communication from handheld satellite phones and other transceiver units — called for the rules to be removed by the FCC and replaced by new rules that better serve the spectrum ecosystem.

“Fifteen years ago, the FCC had a vision of satellite companies integrating terrestrial service into their core satellite business as a supplemental service. This vision has been never been successfully achieved — not once,” said Iridium spokesperson Jordan Hassin. “Instead, the result has been a constant whittling away at the rules to the point they have become irrelevant with a whole lot of collateral damage along the way. Given this history, it is appropriate for the FCC to consider the elimination of these outdated ATC rules while taking into account the realities of existing services and users.”

“ATC is an outdated concept that never developed as intended,” Rob McDowell, former commissioner of the FCC added.

The rules have resulted in proposals to get around them, such as Ligado, and significant fights over harmful spectrum interference to incumbent satellite systems. Ligado has sought to waive three gating criteria established by the FCC.