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TOTM Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” But, apparently, folks in the nation’s capital . . .
Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” But, apparently, folks in the nation’s capital found a way around Betteridge’s Law.
This week, a U.S. House subcommittee hearing featured testimony from all five members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The majority on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology did away with the question mark, titling the hearing “Oversight of President Biden’s Broadband Takeover.”
While it might be a stretch to call the administration’s broadband-policy agenda a “takeover,” one can be forgiven for concluding that the FCC is moving forward with so many massive and comprehensive interventions in nearly every aspect of the broadband market that it looks a lot like a takeover.
Read the full piece here.
Scholarship Abstract Once considered the final frontier, outer space has become the modern day Yukon territory. A burgeoning commercial economy is reshaping the balance of powers . . .
Once considered the final frontier, outer space has become the modern day Yukon territory. A burgeoning commercial economy is reshaping the balance of powers and expanding the breadth of activities beyond our atmosphere. Outer space is no longer the exclusive province of a select number of nation states engaged in geopolitical competition. A robust private sector has begun to stake its claim, ushering in a fundamentally different incentive environment that answers to shareholders and venture financers. As a consequence, the principles that persisted from the Cold War, and ultimately motivated the Outer Space Treaty and its subsequent counterparts, are no longer sufficient. Truth be told, they were never expected to be so. The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (“COPUOS”) never contemplated commercial uses when it adopted—and many nations subsequently ratified—its longstanding space treaties. While private actors have interacted with this environment for decades, the commercial space industry has only recently reached a point of maturity where entities can productively utilize orbital environments, cultivate an entirely new source of natural resources in lunar and cislunar space and further explore the translunar realm. Commercial space is having its moment, and it represents a monumental paradigm shift for space law and policy.
Considering the radical evolution of actors and activities in space, do the instruments and institutions that oversee it need to evolve as well? Traditional forms of public international lawmaking—multilateral treatymaking and institution building followed by each participant’s cooperative consent—may not meet the needs of private actors who bear little affiliation to the country they select to license their operations. Similarly, domestic regulations and policies from a government-mission minded era appear ill suited for the novel complexities of the commercial launch and communications capabilities that are rapidly eclipsing those of national governments. The diverse set of actors and activities in outer space also introduce a novel set of contexts and conflicts that impact private law. In effect, commercial space activity is spurring change that no one track can resolve independently, necessitating pluralist reform that extends the bounds of both public and private law.
A second-order problem that emerges is how to manage an ecosystem in which collective commercial interests diverge from national interests. As many nations become dependent on commercial space services and infrastructure, the balance of power is shifting toward a new calculus. Decisions by private actors now impose externalities that national actors experience immediately and directly, and vice versa, making both sides of the public-private dichotomy increasingly intertwined. Thus, if the law is intended to evolve into more efficient, wealth-maximizing rules, we must also ask who reaps the benefits of these efficiencies, and do they lead to sound policy?
These questions are vexing but timely and provide ample room for further scholarly development exploring ways to better manage the use of outer space. On February 3, 2023, the Journal of Law & Innovation hosted its symposium, “The Emerging Commercial Space Age: Legal and Policy Implications” at the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law. The Symposium brought together leading international law scholars, economists, and telecommunications and antitrust policymakers to assess the twenty-first century space domain and its implications for legal and policy frameworks. Panelists and moderators emphasized the progress of commercial enterprise in outer space, how these increasingly complex and multifaceted interests would influence international space law and the paradigm shifts that must emerge in economic regulation and public policy to foster innovation and sustainable competition. The Articles in this volume touch each of these considerations and are an outgrowth of the presentations and moderated discussions at the Symposium.
 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, Jan. 27, 1967, 18 U.S.T 2410, 610 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force Oct. 10, 1967) [hereinafter Outer Space Treaty].
 Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space, Apr. 22, 1968, 19 U.S.T. 7570, 672 U.N.T.S. 119; Convention on the International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, Mar. 29, 1972, 24 U.S.T. 2389, 961 U.N.T.S. 187 [hereinafter Liability Convention]; Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, Nov. 12, 1974, 1023 U.N.T.S. 15; Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, Dec. 5, 1979, 1363 U.N.T.S. 3 [hereinafter Moon Agreement].
 The symposium program and webcasts of the presentations and discussions are available at https://www.law.upenn.edu/institutes/ctic/jli/events.php.
Scholarship Abstract As an industry, communications satellites have traced a wobbly trajectory. Envisioned to bring revolutionary advances to telecommunications services in the U.S. Communications Satellite Act . . .
As an industry, communications satellites have traced a wobbly trajectory. Envisioned to bring revolutionary advances to telecommunications services in the U.S. Communications Satellite Act of 1962, the marketplace did open via Comsat, a public-private partnership. But the sluggish pace was revealed a decade later when progress increased substantially with the Open Skies policy. Free entry collapsed costs for wide area distribution of broadcasting services, launching the U.S. cable television industry (disrupting the TV broadcasting triopoly) in the 1980s and then direct-to-subscriber satellite TV (challenging the new incumbent cable operators) in the 1990s. In ensuing decades, however, fortunes reversed. Satellite phone and broadband service providers—Iridium, Teledesic, Motient, Intelsat and many others—financially crashed and burned. Yet another reversal may now be in evidence, however: satellites in service have increased more than three-fold in the past decade. Spasms of technological progress, including gains in small device electronics, are driving market change: “While some [satellites] are the size of a bus and weighing over 6,000 pounds, they can also be as small as a lunchbox,” noted a 2018 Aspen Institute report. “Constellations can now be composed of hundreds or even thousands of satellites.” The new mega-constellations are creating a crowded sky. With demand for orbital slots and complementary radio bands dramatically intensifying, new policy formulations are being floated. We outline possible innovations in spectrum property rights.
TOTM Hootenannies are mostly peaceful affairs, so it’s a bit awkward to invoke a violent metaphor here. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones runs . . .
Hootenannies are mostly peaceful affairs, so it’s a bit awkward to invoke a violent metaphor here.
In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones runs down a Cairo sidestreet only to be confronted by a swordsman. The swordsman makes a big show of tossing his weapon from hand-to-hand and swirling it around. But Indy has no time for such nonsense—he pulls out his gun and shoots the would-be assassin.
U.S. spectrum policy is much like the swordsman. While the telecom regulators swirl around studies of how to allocate spectrum, the rest of the world is pulling the trigger.
TOTM Amazon on Friday launched its first two prototype satellites for its planned Project Kuiper internet-satellite network. It was the latest milestone in the rapid evolution of the . . .
Amazon on Friday launched its first two prototype satellites for its planned Project Kuiper internet-satellite network. It was the latest milestone in the rapid evolution of the low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite industry, with companies like SpaceX and OneWeb joining Project Kuiper in launching thousands of satellites to provide broadband internet access globally.
As this nascent industry takes shape, it is important that U.S. policymakers understand its competitive dynamics. With the number of LEO satellites set to increase in the coming years, establishing a regulatory framework that spurs innovation and investment while fostering a competitive marketplace will be essential to ensure the industry’s growth benefits consumers. In this post, we will examine some of the most urgent public-policy issues that directly impact competitiveness in the LEO industry.
Scholarship Abstract This paper builds on previous work addressing the problem of “hold-out” in the licensing of standards essential patents (SEPs) in mobile cellular communications technology. . . .
This paper builds on previous work addressing the problem of “hold-out” in the licensing of standards essential patents (SEPs) in mobile cellular communications technology. Given the pervasiveness of mobile technology, and the need to maintain continued innovation in such technology, the robustness of the licensing marketplace for patents is an economically important issue. We show how the ease with which implementers of such technology such as smartphone makers can use the technology without having agreed to licenses is a major structural factor that shifts bargaining power in licence negotiations towards the implementers. Together with frictions in the enforcement process, and the increasing propensity to resist licensing by new groups of implementers (i.e., “hold out”) we explain why there is an elevated risk that the licensing marketplace may produce outcomes that are inconsistent with the “balance” that Standards Development Organizations (“SDOs”) such as ETSI have sought out. The ability of the licensing marketplace to strike this balance is critical to the continued robustness of the wireless ecosystem. We explain that there is a risk that the SEP holders’ obligation to be prepared to make licences available on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms can be used to “bound” the worst case scenario for an implementer– i.e., that it can never do worse than receiving the “FRAND” royalty. We discuss how courts and policymakers should sensibly interpret the bounds and limits of the FRAND commitment, in order to respect the overarching goals of “balance” and robust innovation in the ecosystem.
TOTM School’s back in session and the Telecom Hootenanny is heating up. We’ve got a hot-off-the-presses issue brief on the ACP, more BEAD agonistes, and the latest on . . .
School’s back in session and the Telecom Hootenanny is heating up. We’ve got a hot-off-the-presses issue brief on the ACP, more BEAD agonistes, and the latest on spectrum auctions.
TOTM The U.S. Senate moved yesterday in a 55-43 vote to confirm Anna Gomez to the Federal Communications Commission. Her confirmation breaks a partisan deadlock at . . .
The U.S. Senate moved yesterday in a 55-43 vote to confirm Anna Gomez to the Federal Communications Commission. Her confirmation breaks a partisan deadlock at the agency that has been in place since the beginning of the Biden administration, when Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel vacated her seat to become FCC chair.
The commission now has a 3-2 Democratic majority. With the new majority, many speculate that the FCC will push to bring back net neutrality, which President Joe Biden supports. The president’s July 9, 2021 executive order specifically “encouraged” the FCC to “[r]estore Net Neutrality rules undone by the prior administration.” Deadline reminds us that Gomez served as counselor to Obama-era FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, when the commission voted to reclassify broadband service under the banner of net neutrality.
TOTM Coming out of Labor Day weekend, there’s not a lot of earth-shaking happenings at the Telecom Hootenanny. But like a visit to the state fair, . . .
Coming out of Labor Day weekend, there’s not a lot of earth-shaking happenings at the Telecom Hootenanny. But like a visit to the state fair, there’s always something to see.