Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Conference report filed in House (03/02/2000)

Open-market Reorganization for the Betterment of International Telecommunications Act or ORBIT Act - Amends the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 to add a new chapter concerning communications satellite competition and privatization.

Prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from issuing a license or construction permit to any separated entity (an entity that has been privatized under this Act), renewing or assigning any such license or permit, or authorizing such entity to use its space segment unless the FCC determines that such issuance, renewal, assignment, or use will not harm competition in the U.S. telecommunications market. Directs the FCC, in considering the application of INTELSAT (the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization), Inmarsat (the International Maritime Satellite Organization), or any successor entity for such license or permit, or in considering the request of any U.S. entity for authorization to use space segment owned, leased, or operated by such entities to provide non-core services to, from, or within the United States, to determine whether INTELSAT, Inmarsat, and their successor entities, by specified dates, have been privatized in a manner that will not harm competition in the U.S. telecommunications markets. Prohibits the FCC from imposing any application limitation, condition, or restriction that will likely result in the limitation or denial of non-core services that are used or required for national security purposes or to protect public health and safety. Outlines competition requirements, including that users of non-core services currently provided by such entities are able to obtain such services from other providers at competitive rates, terms, and conditions.

Prohibits INTELSAT, Inmarsat, or any successor entity from providing additional services until they are privatized in conformance with this Act.

Directs the President and the FCC, applying specified criteria, to secure a pro- competitive privatization of INTELSAT and Inmarsat. Requires each entity to be privatized as soon as practicable, but no later than April 1, 2001, for INTELSAT, and July 1, 2000, for Inmarsat. Requires successor and separated entities of INTELSAT and Inmarsat to be independent entities, requiring each to conduct an initial public stock offering under specified requirements. Prohibits the preferential treatment currently provided to INTELSAT and Inmarsat from being extended to such successor and separated entities. Requires successor or separated entities to become a national corporation or other similarly accepted commercial organization. Authorizes the FCC to extend such entities' initial stock offer deadlines in consideration of market conditions and relevant business factors.

Includes as a specific criteria for INTELSAT privatization that technical coordination shall not be used to impair competition, and shall be conducted under International Telecommunications Union procedures and not under the current INTELSAT agreement.

Includes as specific criteria for INTELSAT separated entities: (1) a public offering of securities of such entity within a specified period (including a conditional extension); (2) a prohibition against interlocking directors or employees; and (3) an 11-year prohibition against the merger or ownership arrangements between a privatized INTELSAT or successor entity and any separated entity.

Includes as specific criteria for Inmarsat privatization: (1) a 15-year prohibition against the merger or ownership arrangements between Inmarsat or any of its successor or separated entities and ICO Global Communications, Inc.; and (2) a prohibition against Inmarsat and ICO interlocking directors or employees.

Directs the Secretary of Commerce to transmit to the FCC a list of member countries of INTELSAT and Inmarsat that are not members of the World Trade Organization and that: (1) impose barriers to market access for private satellite systems; or (2) are not supporting pro-competitive privatization of INTELSAT and Inmarsat. Authorizes the FCC to prohibit U.S. carriers from paying to overseas carriers an amount for international message telephone services in excess of a cost-based settlement rate.

Permits current users or providers of telecommunications services to obtain direct access to INTELSAT telecommunications services and space segment capacity through purchase of such capacity or services from INTELSAT. Requires the FCC to complete a rulemaking to determine whether such users or providers have sufficient opportunity to access such services and capacity directly from INTELSAT.

Authorizes the FCC to restrict foreign ownership of an entity representing the United States in INTELSAT or Inmarsat (a U.S. signatory) if to not do so would constitute a threat to national security. States that no U.S. signatories shall be required after privatization is achieved.

Revises the privileges and immunities currently provided to the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT).

Terminates specified provisions of the Communications Satellite Act of 1962.

Requires annual reports from the President and the FCC to specified congressional committees on progress made in achieving the objectives and carrying out the purposes of this Act.

Prohibits the FCC from assigning by competitive bidding orbital locations or spectrum used for the provision of international or global satellite telecommunications services. Directs the President to oppose any such assignment in international fora.

Prohibits any satellite operator from acquiring or enjoying the exclusive right of handling telecommunications to or from the United States and any other country by reason of any arrangement to which such operator or any persons or companies controlling or controlled by the operator are parties (with an exception for existing services).