There will be no software patch that can save Starlink if the FCC allows Dish Network to build a 5G network using the 12GHz band, a SpaceX executive said.
“There is no easy solution. If the FCC went the wrong way, there’s no such thing as a software fix, a different spectrum band,” said David Goldman, SpaceX senior director for satellite policy.
“This equipment is all dependent on this band. There is no easy way out,” he added.
Goldman made the statement Tuesday in a rare SpaceX briefing with reporters. He did this when the company went to great lengths to convince the FCC to reject Dish’s proposal to tap the 12GHz band for a cellular network.
SpaceX’s satellite Internet service Starlink also uses the same radio spectrum to transmit high-speed broadband to users on the ground. The company now fears that Dish’s proposal to tap the 12GHz spectrum for 5G purposes would render Starlink “unusable” due to the radio interference it will cause.
The regulatory battle has resulted in both sides filing studies and accusing each other of misleading the FCC over the procedure. However, Goldman claims that Dish’s 12GHz 5G plan would reportedly cause outages for most Starlink subscribers locally.
The problem is, Dish is proposing to use the 12GHz spectrum near the company’s Starlink dishes, which are highly sensitive to radio spectrum operating in the same band. “This is not a situation where there would be a software patch. This would be really, extremely detrimental to the outcome if the FCC went in the wrong direction,” Goldman said.
Dish and his allies in the 5G for 12GHz coalition(Opens in a new window), including Dell Technologies, disagree. They claim that both technologies can co-exist to provide users with fast connectivity, and have wondered why Starlink cannot use spectrum outside the 12GHz band for downlink purposes.
“They (SpaceX) are now falsely telling customers and the public that coexistence in the band between Starlink and 5G services is not possible,” Dish wrote.(Opens in a new window) in a filing with the FCC earlier this month.
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In the meantime, SpaceX has been pressuring the FCC to act. Last month, the company petitioned Starlink users across the country to contact the US regulator about rejecting Dish’s proposal to use the 12GHz spectrum. The effort has resulted in more than 90,000 users sending messages to the FCC in support of Starlink.
“We’re optimistic this is headed our way,” Goldman said. During Tuesday’s briefing, SpaceX also invited several Starlink users — including Wise County Public Schools in Virginia and the Hoh Tribe in Washington — to talk about how the satellite Internet system is providing them with much-needed high-speed broadband.
“This is a success story for the FCC,” Goldman said of Starlink. “What Dish and Dell are asking is for the FCC to move away from the successful rule (on the 12GHz spectrum).”
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