SpaceX is working towards launching the Starlink cellular service in the coming year. The aim is to provide satellite-based messaging and internet to smartphones. However, the company needs to convince the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the technology will not interfere with other satellite and ground-based services. In order to consider SpaceX’s application to operate the Starlink cellular service over the 1910 to 1995MHz radio bands, the FCC has sent a list of additional questions to the company.
One of the questions asks SpaceX to provide an “interference analysis” that takes into account various factors such as rain fade, cloud cover, and clear sky conditions. The analysis should also consider the worst-case scenario of all satellites transmitting simultaneously. The FCC also wants to know how the company plans to handle potential loss of service by other authorized satellite and terrestrial operators in the relevant areas.
Furthermore, the FCC requested that SpaceX provide a map indicating the projected beam coverage for the United States, including information on the maximum and typical power levels of the satellite cellular service. The FCC also wants clarification on how SpaceX would shut down the cellular Starlink system in the event of interference in specific geographic areas.
This letter from the FCC comes amidst concerns raised by other companies about potential interference caused by the Starlink cellular system. Omnispace, a satellite communications provider, has stated that the interference is unavoidable for its own S-Band satellites operating in the 1980-2010MHz frequency range.
SpaceX has denied these claims, stating that they will not cause harmful interference to Omnispace’s system. The company has also accused Omnispace of primarily serving foreign customers rather than US users. SpaceX argues that Omnispace’s analysis provides no justification for delaying the deployment of their service to American consumers.
SpaceX has yet to respond to the FCC’s recent list of questions.