The FCC authorized the construction, launch, and operation of numerous fixed-satellite service satellites in FY 1997. In accordance with FCC authorization, PanAmSat launched PAS-8 in May 1997 and PAS-9 in August 1997. The FCC authorized the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and the General Electric Corporation to deploy two hybrid C/Ku-band satellites in 1998. The FCC also authorized GE Americom to launch GE-3, which was deployed on September 4, 1997. The FCC authorized Comsat to participate in the launch of three INTELSAT-8 series satellites.
In accordance with its FCC license, Iridium launched 34 of the 66 low-Earth orbit satellites that will comprise its full constellation. It is anticipated that this system will be the first in a new generation of nongeostationary satellite systems providing mobile services.
In March 1997, the FCC authorized Teledesic to construct, launch, and operate a constellation of 840 nongeostationary satellites to provide fixed-satellite service in the Ka-band. In May 1997, the FCC adopted an orbital assignment plan for geostationary fixed-satellite service systems proposed in the Ka-band and awarded 13 system licenses.
The FCC awarded the first two licenses for the satellite Digital Audio Radio Service through the auction process. Licenses went to Satellite CD Radio and American Mobile Radio Corporation. This mobile service will operate in the S-band and is expected to provide Nationwide radio programming with compact disk quality. Through the auction process, the FCC awarded licenses to Echostar and MCI to provide digital broadcast satellite service.
The FCC authorized Mobile Communications Holdings, Inc., and Constellation Communications, Inc., to provide mobile satellite service in the L-band. Mobile Communications Holdings was authorized to operate a constellation of 16 nongeostationary satellites, while Constellation was authorized to operate a constellation of 46 satellites.