SpaceX: Starlink threatens to become ‘unusable’ if dish gets 12GHz spectrum

SpaceX: Starlink threatens to become ‘unusable’ if dish gets 12GHz spectrum

SpaceX: Starlink threatens to become ‘unusable’ if dish gets 12GHz spectrum

A plan by Dish Network to use 12GHz radio spectrum for the company’s 5G network threatens to degrade Starlink satellite Internet service in the US, SpaceX said.

“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” , SpaceX said on the official Starlink website on Tuesday.

The company has made the statement(Opens in a new window) as both SpaceX and a coalition of companies, including Dish Network, compete for legal access to the 12GHz spectrum. SpaceX currently uses the 12GHz band for its satellite Internet service, allowing Starlink users to download content from the Internet.

However, Dish Network is lobbying the FCC for access to the 12GHz band to run a 5G cellular network on the ground. The regulatory battle is bogged down in files filed with the FCC, which will decide the case. But on Tuesday, SpaceX told the FCC that opening the 12GHz spectrum to wireless network providers like Dish Network poses a direct threat to Starlink’s usability.

“SpaceX submits a comprehensive technical analysis showing that mobile services proposed by Dish and RS Access would, in fact, cause massive disruptions in the use of next-generation satellite services,” the company wrote.(Opens in a new window) in a letter to the FCC the same day.

Starlink Research Image

The letter goes on to say that a 5G cellular network using the 12GHz band would “drop out” and easily disrupt a consumer’s Starlink access. This is because the Starlink dishes themselves are very sensitive to radio spectrum operating in the same band. SpaceX’s own research(Opens in a new window) estimates that the harmful interference would extend at least 21 kilometers (13 miles) from a 12GHz mobile base station installed on the ground.

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

Dish Network told PCMag it was currently reviewing the SpaceX study, so it couldn’t comment right away. Meanwhile, the company is part of the coalition “5G for 12GHz”(Opens in a new window)who has argued that both satellite services and 5G can coexist on the 12GHz band, citing a study it sponsored by RKF Engineering.

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“This analysis shows that 5G services can operate in the 12GHz band and deliver tremendous benefits to hundreds of millions of Americans without harmful interference for more than 99% of future NGSO (non-geostationary satellite orbit) users,” the coalition said.

However, Tuesday’s letter from SpaceX to the FCC accused the investigation as part of an effort to mislead the committee into releasing the 12GHz spectrum rights. “As such, SpaceX is urging the Commission to investigate whether Dish and RS Access deliberately submitted misleading reports,” the company added.

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