FCC’s International Overhaul

To many the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a behemoth of an
organization charged with enforcing Congress’ communications laws over the
air and through telephone and cable lines.

So it might come as a surprise to some following the commission’s yearly
budget meeting last week, when Michael Powell, FCC chairman (in addition to
asking for
$278 million to fund 2003 operations
), announced the overhaul of many
of its bureaus, including the international bureau.

The FCC plans for an overhaul to its international division, beefing up the
staffing needs for the bureau and creating new offices. To date, the
bureau has been a relatively dated (by Internet standards, anyways) one
with a planning and negotiations division, satellite and radio
communications division and telecommunications division.

Powell wants to streamline these divisions to more accurately reflect the
bureau’s “work on international policy and spectrum issues and the
commission’s role in bilateral, regional and multilateral organizations,” a
statement read.

To do so, the FCC chief proposes three newly-named divisions that more
accurately reflect this new policy, one of more quickly opening and
deploying U.S. businesses worldwide in wake of the country’s recent
downturn in the economy: policy, satellite and strategic analysis &
negotiations divisions.

With so many concerns that need addressing in the U.S., why worry about
what happens overseas? A lot, according to Donald Abelson, FCC
international bureau chief.

“These changes will enable the Bureau to best serve the Commission and the
public in authorizing satellite and international telecommunications
services and in leading the world in developing pro-competitive and
transparent regulatory approaches,” he said.

A quick breakdown of the new division’s goals:

  • Policy division — This division’s goal is to speak for U.S. phone
    companies by setting international telecommunications policies that provide
    a competitive market. This involves getting the best rates for
    international facilities and services, as well as ruling on international
    spectrum issues.

  • Satellite division — Open up the satellite market in the U.S. by
    pushing as many systems through the regulatory environment as possible,
    done by minimizing regulations and developing new regulations to speed the
    process. The division works with foreign governmental regulators to
    promote “U.S. interests in international coordinations and negotiations,”
    the division’s charter reads.
  • Strategic Analysis & Negotiations Division — The FCC mouthpiece at
    international and regional ruling and standards bodies like the
    International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Asia-Pacific Economic
    Cooperation (APEC) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and
    Development (OECD). The division also looks at foreign telecom polices and
    determines their implications to U.S. policy.

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