SpaceX Warns 5G Plan Would Deny Starlink To Most Americans

TAMPA, Fla. — SpaceX warned on June 21 that its Starlink broadband network would become unusable for most Americans if a proposal to use the 12 GHz band for terrestrial 5G was approved.

US satellite broadcaster Dish Network is seeking permission to operate a high-powered mobile service in the 12GHz band, part of the Ku-band spectrum that Starlink, OneWeb and other satellite operators use to connect at user terminals.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX said tests it conducted in Las Vegas show how the proposed network would cause Starlink users to “experience harmful interference” more than 77% of the time.


Starlink would be “subject to total service outage 74% of the time,” wrote David Goldman, senior director of satellite policy at SpaceX.

“This analysis verifies what should be intuitive – that a high-power terrestrial network would blast anyone using the high-sensitivity equipment that satellite consumers must use to receive signals that comply with Commission and international power restrictions. on satellite downlink transmissions,” he said.

“As a result, far fewer Americans could be connected using next-generation satellite services, and those who remained would experience degraded service and regular network outages.”

He said SpaceX’s analysis highlights inaccuracies and “glaring assumptions” in previous interference studies commissioned by RS Access, a holding company that, like Dish Network, owns licenses in the 12 GHz band that ‘she wants to upgrade for a 5G network in the United States.

A study for RS Access estimated a national 5G network would cause interference to less than 1% of terminals used by non-geostationary satellite operators, as well as detailed solutions that would mitigate the impact.

However, Goldman said this analysis is “out of touch with reality” and does not take into account factors such as how satellite operators share their spectrum through coordination agreements.

“In fact, SpaceX recently announced that it has entered into a coordination agreement with OneWeb, but historic achievements like this require the flexibility that only comes with full access to this shared band,” he wrote in the letter to the FCC. .

He said RS Access’s analysis also assumes that its terrestrial network would only cover dense urban areas and would be geographically separated from satellite operators who would remain in almost entirely rural areas.

This would force Starlink to essentially forgo “often unserved or underserved users” in those urban areas.

According to SpaceX’s study, harmful interference from high-power mobile service in the 12 GHz band would extend more than 13 miles from the macro base station in clear conditions.

SpaceX has urged the FCC to reject Dish Network’s 12 GHz proposal and investigate whether previous technical studies submitted to the regulator were intentionally misleading.

Dish Network spokeswoman Meredith Diers said “the company’s expert engineers are evaluating SpaceX’s claims in the filing.” RS Access did not respond to a request for comment.

The letter is the latest exchange in a bitter regulatory row between SpaceX and Dish Network that has been playing out in FCC filings for years.

In a June 13 letter to the FCC, Dish Network attorney Pantelis Michalopoulos called on the regulator to force SpaceX to disable Starlink customers who have installed antennas on moving boats and cars because the company does not yet have the authorization to operate mobility services.

Goldman told the FCC in SpaceX’s June 21 letter that Dish Network’s regulatory “attacks” have “delayed new services, such as mobile connectivity, that otherwise unserved Americans badly needed.”

Dish Network has amassed frequencies in other spectrum bands for its 5G plans. The company said on June 15 that it had commercial launch of 5G services in over 100 cities across the United States, covering approximately 20% of the US population.

Most of Starlink’s current coverage in the United States is concentrated west of the Mississippi River and not limited to cities, according to his availability cardthe remaining areas to come online in 2023.

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