SpaceX fears Starlink service could be trashed by 5G plan

SpaceX has said its US-based Starlink customers will see their broadband service severely disrupted if Dish Network is allowed to use the 12GHz band for its 5G cellular network.

The decision is in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as Dish Network and others, such as New York-based RS Access, are lobbying the agency to let them use the 12GHz band. But SpaceX isn’t happy.

“If Dish’s lobbying efforts are successful, our research shows that Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77% of the time and total service outage 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans” , the company said in a statement posted. on its website on Tuesday 21 June.

The long-running dispute involves a number of companies trying to access the 12GHz band that SpaceX already uses for its internet-from-space Starlink service.

Dish has previously published data suggesting that 5G networks on the ground could easily share frequency with low-Earth orbit satellite networks operated by the likes of SpaceX for its Starlink service.

But this week, SpaceX said tech studies “dating back to 2016″ suggest opening the band to ground-based 5G networks could adversely affect Starlink service, even accusing Dish of attempting to ” mislead the FCC with faulty analysis in the hope of obscuring the truth.”

The company led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk also shared a 12-page technical analysis explaining how mobile services Dish envisioned would “cause massive disruptions to users of next-generation satellite services,” such as Starlink.

It explained that a high-gain antenna, such as the SpaceX user terminal, “is designed with enough sensitivity to receive very weak signals from a desired station,” adding that “such antennas do not interfere with other directions.” The result is that interference “would completely wipe out the desired signal”.

In widely reported comments, a spokesperson for Dish said his “expert engineers are evaluating SpaceX’s claims.”

Dish announced last week that it has launched commercial 5G services in more than 100 U.S. cities — covering about 20% of the country’s population — by using frequencies in other spectrum bands. But whether it will have access to the 12GHz band as part of its 5G rollout remains to be seen.

SpaceX has launched more than 2,500 Starlink satellites into orbit for its broadband service, which currently serves more than 400,000 customers in 34 countries.

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