Starlink Aims At Providing Mobile Services By Using New Frequencies – Takes Aim At DISH

Aug 5, 2022 08:18 EDT
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SpaceX is gearing up to provide mobile services with its Starlink satellite internet constellation according to a fresh filing the company made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last month. The filing asks for the Commission's approval to use the 2GHz band for mobile services in a band that is currently being targeted by DISH Network for its devices. It comes as SpaceX and DISH battle it out for rights for the 12GHz spectrum, with the latter urging the FCC to grant it more access to the band and the former stressing that any such decision is contrary to the Commission's objectives and will end up severely degrading service for existing Starlink users.

SpaceX Criticizes DISH In Latest Bid To Acquire 2GHz Spectrum For Starlink

In the application, SpaceX's director of satellite policy Mr. David Goldman shares his company's plans to now add the 2Ghz spectrum to its satellite communications portfolio. Currently, Starlink's satellite user terminals use different spectrum ranges to provide internet coverage, and for adding 2GHz, officially referred to as Mobile Satellite Services (MSS), SpaceX will use its existing satellites, user terminals and new earth station equipment for providing coverage.

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Through these plans, SpaceX aims to provide connectivity to remote regions and other countries as well, with the company stressing to the Commission that the MSS authorization will enable it to provide Americans with 24/7 coverage wherever they are.

As Mr. Goldman notes in the filing:

Americans are increasingly demanding connectivity wherever they are, whenever they want, and whatever they are doing. In particular, they have grown accustomed to being able to connect using small, hand-held devices that they can carry with them or affix to mobile platforms.

DISH's 5G commercial network will use the Motorola Edge+ due to a lack of devices that support the Band 70 frequencies. Image: Motorola.

Right now, two satellites, both owned by DISH's subsidiaries use the same MSS frequency bands that SpaceX plans to use, and the company takes its aim at them by pointing out that so far they have not offered any meaningful service in the American market. SpaceX adds by outlining that DISH has "abandoned" true MSS service and has instead chosen to limit itself to utilizing the AWS-4 network for terrestrial service.

This network is part of DISH's Project Genesis which was unveiled in Las Vegas, Nevada earlier this year. It will support a single smartphone - the Motorola Edge+ - for the time being, as device manufacturers are yet to launch gadgets that commercially support the frequencies that DISH will use. Customers will have to fork out $899 for the smartphone, and pay $30 monthly for ''Smart 5G data", text and talk services, shared a DISH spokesperson to FierceWirless in May.

Starlink's existing satellites - and future ones, will use an MSS add-on to provide the connectivity and as a result, the proposed service will not require any new satellites apart from those already authorized for launch by the FCC. These satellites will also use inter optical connectivity or lasers for MSS coverage, and the service will be available to a host of users such as federal and commercial entities in addition to the everyday consumer.

Finally, Mr. Goldman also outlined that the offering will work in synergy with his company's acquisition of satellite internet of things (IoT) services provider Swarm Technologies, as he stated to the Commission that:

Swarm has already launched most of its authorized satellites and is offering services to customers in the agriculture, maritime, energy, environmental, and transportation sectors, among others in need of global satellite connectivity for IoT devices. The combination of the proposed 2 GHz MSS system and the Swarm IoT connectivity solutions will truly encompass all ranges of data rates and power levels for devices around the world.

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