SpaceX intensifies FCC fight over broadband access, company says pose a potential threat to Starlink

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaking about the Starlink project at the MWC Hybrid Keynote on the second day of Mobile World Congress on June 29, 2021 in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

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Washington – Elon Musk’s SpaceX intensifies fight over broadband rules on Tuesday dish network and an ally of billionaire Michael Dell, asked the Federal Communications Commission to address pending disputes over broadband access that could interfere with its Starlink satellite Internet network.

At the center of the controversy is the use of the 12 GHz band, a range of frequencies used for broadband communications, and the frequency’s ability to support both ground-based and space-based services.

In January 2021, the FCC issued a notice to comment on how best to use the 12 GHz band. Dish and RS Access, funded by Dell’s investment firm, published studies arguing that ground-based 5G networks could share frequency with low Earth orbit satellite networks, such as Starlink or OneWeb.

SpaceX on Tuesday filed its analysis of the Dish and RS Access studies, which claims to correct “some of the most pressing assumptions” in the report and argues that Starlink users will see interference due to service outages for customers “74%.” of time.”

Musk’s company called on the FCC to “investigate whether Dish and RS Access filed intentionally misleading reports,” noting that the studies did not match Dish’s findings two years ago, calling the sharing use “not viable.” “It was called.

SpaceX isn’t the only one opposing a possible expansion of 12GHz usage. telecommunications companies, such as AT&Ttech giant Google And MicrosoftAs well as satellite network operators such as Intelsat, OneWeb, and SES all filed comments opposing the change with the FCC.

Senior SpaceX representatives told CNBC that the company hopes its response will prompt the FCC to come to a conclusion on the 12GHz issue, describing the possibility of a decision in favor of Dish and RS Access, but the company’s There is an existential threat to Starlink. Network.

“Leaving the proceedings open any longer cannot be justified for policy or technical reasons. In the six years since the Commission has scuttled the proceedings, there have been countless attempts of engineering satellite operators to respond to frivolous arguments by DISH and RS Access.” hours,” David Goldman, senior director of SpaceX satellite policy, wrote in a letter to the FCC on Tuesday.

SpaceX has launched about 2,700 Starlink satellites into orbit so far, has about 500,000 users and its manufacturing line produces about 30,000 satellite dishes per week.

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment when it expects to issue a decision on the 12 GHz band.

spectrum rights

Dish Networks performing at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

Justin Solomon | CNBC

Dish and RS Access lead a coalition of companies that have terrestrial FCC licenses in the 12 GHz band, and a pair of entities representing the two largest holders in that spectrum range. While Dish is generally known for providing satellite television services, the company has acquired broad spectrum.

For years, Dish has argued that it would use its valuable spectrum rights. Recently, with the FCC deadline coming to an end, Dish launched its own “Project Genesis” network of 5G service, which the company says has met a government requirement to serve more than 20% of the US population. completed. Whether Dish’s network actually achieves that limit is disputed, As tested by The Verge of Service,

Goldman said, “Dish has not lived up to its repeated promises to deploy a new terrestrial network using special licenses already stored in its warehouses – the commission has been able to deliver on this track record of broken promises and trapped consumers.” Cannot give more spectrum to any operator with the US,” Goldman SpaceX wrote in a letter to the FCC.

Dish did not immediately return a request for comment to CNBC.

Dish has faced FCC repercussions over spectrum rights in the past. In an unrelated ruling by the US Court of Appeals on Tuesday, a federal judge upheld the FCC’s determination that Dish had “actual control” over two other companies, Bloomberg told, According to the report, the arrangement violated spectrum auction rules by obtaining $3.3 billion of bidding credits that were meant for small businesses.

Read SpaceX’s letter to the FCC here.