The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking SpaceX to provide extra information to assure the regulator their new services will not interfere with existing terrestrial mobile networks
Earlier this week, the FCC sent a list of additional questions to SpaceX as part of their ongoing review of whether to approve the satellite operator’s direct-to-mobile service in the 1,990–1,995MHz (space-to-Earth) and 1,910–1,915MHz (Earth-to-space) spectrum bands.
Chief among these concerns is whether these new services would cause interference for existing terrestrial mobile networks, particularly in geographic areas where T-Mobile is licensed to operate on the same bands. As a result, the FCC is asking SpaceX to conduct an interference analysis and provide a map with projected beam coverage for the US.
The FCC is also asking the operator for more information about how SpaceX would turn off satellites if they were found to be causing interference with terrestrial services, as well as how this switch off would affect customers in adjacent areas.
“If SpaceX is required to cease operations due to harmful interference when the satellites are serving populated areas that already have full terrestrial coverage, how will this be accomplished with multiple satellites or multiple coverage areas simultaneously? How would the cessation of service in those areas potentially affect service to adjacent unserved or underserved areas? How will SpaceX prevent operation of a handset that is outside the service area of its partner terrestrial operator?” asked the FCC.
The FCC had been reviewing SpaceX’s application for its Starlink constellation since February this year, when SpaceX first revealed its ambitions for commercialising direct-to-mobile services.
Since then, SpaceX has pushed for rapid approvals from the FCC, posting on its website that it hopes to launch the new services as early as next year. The service will initially support only text messaging, with voice and internet services to be added in 2025.
However, SpaceX has received opposition to its plans from various players in the US telecoms market, most notably DISH and AT&T, who argue that SpaceX is not following correct regulatory procedure in its attempt to fast track its service to commercialisation.