Home Science Technology Starlink Gen 2 did not run on Globalstar and Dish Spectrum

Starlink Gen 2 did not run on Globalstar and Dish Spectrum


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United Stated has refused to allow SpaceX access to spectrum from Globalstar and Dish to power its Starlink Gen2 for direct satellite to mobile internet.

SpaceX, the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, has been at the forefront of revolutionizing satellite-based internet services with its ambitious Starlink project.

The Gen2 Starlink constellation aims to provide global broadband coverage by deploying thousands of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. However, recent developments have raised regulatory challenges for SpaceX.

In February 2023, SpaceX filed a modification for its Gen2 Starlink constellation application. The company sought to introduce a ‘Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) component’ that would utilize specific spectrum bands. These bands included: 1.6/2.4 GHz bands, 2 GHz bands and 2020-2025 MHz Earth-to-space band.

Both Globalstar and Dish hold licenses for portions of these spectrum bands. Globalstar operates within the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands, while Dish is licensed in the 2 GHz bands.

Globalstar and Dish raised concerns about SpaceX’s request. Under the FCC’s existing “Big LEO” rulemaking, Globalstar and Iridium currently operate within the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands. Each operator has exclusive use of a portion of the spectrum, with only a narrow shared segment (0.95 MHz). Dish, on the other hand, is the sole entity authorized in the 2 GHz bands for Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and advanced wireless service-4 (AWS) terrestrial use.

FCC’s Decision

The FCC carefully considered SpaceX’s arguments. SpaceX contended that technological advancements, such as phased arrays and beam scheduling protocols, would allow their system to “coexist” without causing harmful interference to other satellite systems. However, the FCC determined that a new rulemaking proceeding would be necessary to assess the availability of another CDMA MSS system in LEO. Consequently, the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands were deemed unavailable for licensing an additional NGSO MSS system.

Regarding the 2 GHz bands, the FCC acknowledged Dish’s ongoing wireless system build-out. While SpaceX argued that Dish was not currently offering MSS service in these bands, the FCC concluded that new rulemaking would be required to permit an additional MSS system.

SpaceX’s Petition and the Future

In response to the dismissal, SpaceX submitted a petition asking the FCC to revise its licensing and spectrum sharing framework for “Big LEO” systems. The petition specifically addresses the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands and MSS systems operating in the 2000-2020 MHz (Earth-to-space) and 2180-2200 MHz (space-to-Earth) bands. The FCC has put both SpaceX’s petition and Dish’s opposition on public notice, inviting comments from stakeholders.

The FCC’s decision underscores the delicate balance between fostering innovation and protecting existing spectrum rights. As SpaceX continues to push the boundaries of satellite internet, regulatory scrutiny will remain a critical aspect of its journey.

Starlink coming to Ghana 

Meanwhile, Starlink is in the process of getting licensing approval in Ghana, following the recent widespread outage on the undersea cable dependent internet services in country.

Starlink’s services had long been sneaked into the country on the blind side of the regulator, leading to a recent declaration that Starlink services are illegal in Ghana, just as it is in other African countries.

But following the unexpected massive internet outage, government announced that it is working on legalizing Starlink in Ghana to given Ghanaians an alternative in the form of satellite-based internet.

Even though Starlink’s services are relatively expensive, they are expected to give existing service providers some amount of competition, as customer experience is beginning to take pre-eminence over price, particularly for enterprise users.

Meanwhile, the recently outgone CEO of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh has said that MTN sees Starlink as a partner rather than a competitor because he believes it will be in the interest of Starlink to collaborate with players like MTN, who control the existing data infrastructure to reach a wider group of people with their services for mutual benefit.

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