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Ajit Pai on FCC’s Proposed Orbital Debris Rules, Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

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Ajit Pai
Ajit Pai Chairman FCC

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), told SpaceNews in an interview published Tuesday that FCC is in the process of reviewing comments from federal agencies and stakeholders in the private sector on the proposed orbital debris mitigation rules.

“With some of the new innovations in space it’s important to ensure that the orbital debris rules can protect the space environment,” Pai said. “What we’re looking to do is to strike a balance, as we do when it comes to terrestrial-based innovation, to encourage innovation in a reasonably safe way.”

He responded to a question about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and its use by some companies to help fund their broadband networks in low-Earth orbit.

“When it comes to RDOF, one of the things we tweaked compared to the Connect America Fund Phase 2 is that we are putting our thumb on the scale in favor of faster speeds and lower latency while still maintaining that principle of technological neutrality,” Pai said. “If any company, including the LEO constellation companies, want to compete at a certain service threshold and have demonstrated that they are able to do so, we want them to have a full and fair chance to compete.”

Pai discussed FCC’s preparation for the C-band auction in December and explained the commission’s ruling on Ligado Networks’ application.