FCC: Ka-Band Satellite Application and Licensing Procedure

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-12-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Office of the General Counsel


      December 1, 1997

      The Honorable John McCain
      The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.
      The Honorable John D. Dingell
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Federal Communications Commission: Ka-Band Satellite Application and
                 Licensing Procedure

      Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on
      a major rule promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),
      entitled "Ka-Band Satellite Application and Licensing Procedure" (CC Docket No. 92-
      297; FCC 97-378). We received the rule on November 17, 1997. It was published in
      the Federal Register as a final rule on November 18, 1997. 62 Fed. Reg. 61448.

      The final rule adopts licensing qualification requirements and service rules for a
      new generation of fixed service systems in the Ka-Band.1 The systems can provide
      a wide variety of broadband interactive digital services including: voice, data and
      video; videoconferencing; facsimile; computer access and telemedicine. The
      systems can provide direct-to-home services, potentially allowing customers to
      participate in activities from distance learning to interactive home shopping.

       The term Ka-Band generally refers to the space-to-earth (downlink) frequencies at
      17.7-20.2 GHz and the corresponding earth-to-space (uplink) frequencies at 27.5-30.0
      GHz, or the "28 GHz band."

Enclosed is our assessment of the FCC's compliance with the procedural steps
required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule.
Our review indicates that the FCC complied with the applicable requirements.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact James Vickers, Assistant
General Counsel, at (202) 512-8210. The official responsible for GAO evaluation
work relating to the Federal Communications Commission is John Anderson,
Director of Transportation Issues. Mr. Anderson can be reached at (202) 512-2834.

Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel


cc: Mr. Peter W. Herrick
    AMD-Performance Evaluation and
     Records Management
    Federal Communications Commission

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       ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
                                ISSUED BY
                    (CC Docket No. 92-297; FCC 97-378)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

The Commission, in its report to our Office, states that it was not required to
prepare and did not prepare a cost-benefit analysis of the final rule.

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605,
607, and 609

The FCC prepared both an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis and a Final
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, which appeared in the preambles to the proposed
rule and the final rule, respectively.

The analyses describe the reason for the rule and the legal basis for it and include
descriptions and estimates of the number of small entities affected by the rule; a
discussion of the recordkeeping, reporting, and other compliance requirements; and
the steps taken to minimize the burdens on small entities. In the Final Regulatory
Flexibility Analysis, it is pointed out that, following months of working with all of
the applicants, agreement was reached on an orbital assignment plan to
accommodate all first-round applicants. Therefore, the FCC was able to waive its
financial qualification requirements. This will enable small entities the opportunity
to compete in the capital intensive satellite industry.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

As an independent regulatory agency, the Commission is not subject to title II of the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

The final rule was issued using the notice and comment procedures contained in
5 U.S.C. § 553. On July 29, 1996, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking
and requested comments from the public. 61 Fed. Reg. 39425. This proposed rule

followed an earlier proposed rule issued on August 23, 1995 (60 Fed. Reg. 43470)
which also involved a request for comments on qualifications and rules for systems
operating at the Ka-Band.

In the preamble to the final rule, the FCC responds to the comments it received as
a result of the publication of the proposed rules.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

The final rule contains an information collection which is subject to review by the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and
a request for OMB approval will be submitted. Comments are solicited in the
preamble to the final rule and can be filed until January 20, 1998.

The preamble to the final rule discusses the information collection, which is an
annual report from all licensees including the status of space station construction
and a listing of any non-scheduled space station outages for more than 30 minutes
and the causes thereof. The FCC estimates there will be 20 respondents and the
burden hours will be 2 hours per respondent or an annual total burden of 40 hours.

The information collection will not be conducted until OMB approval is obtained
and an OMB control number is issued.

Statutory authorization for the rule

The final rule is authorized by sections 4 and 303(r) of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended (47 U.S.C. §§ 154 and 303(r)) and section 201(c) of the
Communications Satellite Act of 1962 (47 U.S.C. § 721(c)).

Executive Order No. 12866

The rule, promulgated by an independent regulatory agency, is not subject to the
review requirements of Executive Order No. 12866.

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