A plan from Dish Network to use the 12GHz radio spectrum for the company’s 5G network risks degrading the Starlink satellite internet service across the US, according to SpaceX.
“If Dish’s lobbying efforts succeed, our study shows that Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77% of the time and total outage of service 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans,” SpaceX claimed on the official Starlink website on Tuesday.
The company made the allegation(Opens in a new window) As both SpaceX and a coalition of companies, including Dish Network, are battling for regulatory access to the 12GHz spectrum. SpaceX currently uses the 12GHz band for its satellite internet service so that Starlink users can download content from the web.
However, Dish Network has been lobbying the FCC for access to the 12GHz band to run a 5G cellular network on the ground. The regulatory battle has been grinding away in filings made with the FCC, which will decide the matter. But on Tuesday, SpaceX told the FCC opening the 12GHz spectrum to wireless network providers such as Dish Network represents a direct threat to Starlink’s usability.
“SpaceX submits an extensive technical analysis showing that mobile services envisioned by Dish and RS Access would in fact cause massive disruptions to uses of next-generation satellite services,” the company wrote(Opens in a new window) in a letter to the FCC on the same day.
The letter goes on to say a 5G cellular network using the 12GHz band would “blow out” and easily interfere with a consumer’s Starlink access. This is because the Starlink dishes themselves are highly sensitive to radio spectrum operating in the same band. SpaceX’s own study(Opens in a new window) On the matter estimates the harmful interference would extend at a minimum of 21 kilometers (13 miles) from a cellular 12GHz base station installed on the ground.
“As a result, vastly fewer Americans could be connected using next-generation satellite services, and those that would remain 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 immediately comment. In the meantime, the company is part of the “5G for 12GHz” coalition(Opens in a new window)which has argued that both satellite services and 5G can co-exist on the 12GHz band, citing a study it sponsored from RKF Engineering.
“This analysis demonstrates that 5G services can operate in the 12GHz band enormous bringing benefits to hundreds of millions of Americans with zero harmful interference on more than 99% of future NGSO (Non-geostationary satellite orbit) users,” the coalition says.
Recommended by Our Editors
However, Tuesday’s letter from SpaceX to the FCC accused the study as being part of an effort to trick the commission into freeing up the 12GHz spectrum rights. “As such, SpaceX urges the Commission to investigate whether Dish and RS Access filed intentionally misleading reports,” the company added.
In a statement to PCMag, the 5G for 12GHz coalition said: “We understand that SpaceX has —after 18 months and both a robust comment and reply period— just filed its own in-house technical submission to the 12 GHz proceeding. Our engineers and technical experts are reviewing the engineers filing in depth and remain committed to working in good faith with the FCC and stakeholders to ensure that the American public is able to reap the massive benefits of 5G services in this band.”
Get Our Best Stories!
Sign up for What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.