The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved ahead with plans to propose a regulatory framework covering satellite-to-phone offerings, seeking to tap growing availability of such services to tackle coverage gaps.

Commissioners today (16 March) unanimously voted to approve proposals first discussed by chair Jessica Rosenworcel during MWC23 seeking to boost collaboration between satellite and mobile operators.

Key areas covered include developing a framework to enable satellite service providers working with land-based counterparts to gain FCC clearance to tap licensed spectrum, along with the potential to allocate specific frequencies.

“A satellite operator could then serve a wireless provider’s customers” in remote areas, the regulator explained.

The FCC is seeking comment on how any new rules could also enable access to emergency response systems for users of satellite-to-phone services.

A further vote will be held to explore the potential for any framework to be extended to other bands, locations and applications.

During MWC23, Rosenworcel highlighted the potential for satellite-to-phone services to make “mobile dead zones a thing of the past”.

T-Mobile US and SpaceX plan to beta test satellite-based calls later this year, while Apple launched a limited emergency messaging service in November 2022.