SpaceX has submitted a 16-page document to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address concerns about interference from its cellular Starlink service. The company reassures the FCC that the service will benefit US consumers and clarifies that harmful interference can be ceased, should it occur. Each active satellite transmission chain can be individually shut down upon receiving commands from SpaceX’s ground control. The company’s software allows for near real-time network re-planning, enabling operations to be halted across any number of geographic areas.
To prevent interference, SpaceX has developed smart and efficient beam-planning software that fine-tunes the satellite radio transmissions. The system will utilize T-Mobile’s radio spectrum to transmit cellular data, and the company ensures that the operations will not cause interference or violate T-Mobile’s license obligations. SpaceX plans to launch satellites to support the cellular Starlink service once it obtains regulatory clearance from the FCC. The network is expected to involve up to 7,500 Starlink satellites.
However, other cellular and satellite providers, including AT&T, Dish Network, Apple’s satellite partner Globalstar, and Omnispace, have raised concerns about interference with the FCC. Omnispace has claimed that operating the cellular Starlink service without causing radio disruptions is “impossible.” SpaceX refutes these claims, providing an interference analysis that demonstrates its capability to maintain interference levels below a threshold set by Omnispace. The analysis includes maps and data that argue SpaceX can adjust Starlink radio signals to accommodate other satellite providers.
SpaceX is urging the FCC to promptly approve its application to operate the cellular Starlink service. The company aims to begin serving T-Mobile customers as early as next year, starting with satellite-based text messaging and expanding to voice and data in 2025.