FCC to SpaceX. Can you turn off the mobile Starlink service if interference occurs?

SpaceX plans to launch Starlink mobile service next year, which aims to deliver satellite messaging and internet to smartphones. But the company still needs to convince the FCC that the technology won’t interfere with other satellite and terrestrial services.

The FCC sent a list of additional questions to SpaceX on Tuesday as the US regulator considers whether to approve or deny the company’s application to operate Starlink mobile service on the 1910 to 1995 MHz radio waves.

The company originally applied last year to start using thousands of Starlink satellites to deliver radio signals to smartphones on the ground, including from T-Mobile. The FCC is now asking SpaceX to provide an “interference analysis” by November 17th.

“This analysis must consider the worst-case scenario for all simulcasting satellites, including varying power levels required for rain attenuation and cloud cover, as well as clear-sky conditions in a given coverage area,” the FCC wrote.

In addition, the same analysis should consider “the possibility of loss of service by other authorized satellite and terrestrial operators in the area,” the commission added.

Another request asks SpaceX to provide a “map with projected radiation coverage” for the United States, showing peak and typical power levels for satellite cellular service. The FCC also wants to know how the company can shut down the cellular Starlink system if interference occurs in certain geographic areas.

“If SpaceX is required to shut down operations due to harmful interference when satellites serve populated areas that already have full terrestrial coverage, how will this be accomplished with multiple satellites or multiple coverage areas at the same time?” The FCC asks:

The letter comes as other companies have raised concerns with the FCC about interference with the Starlink cellular system. US-based Omnispace, a satellite communications provider, even told the commission that interference was inevitable for its own S-Band satellites operating in the 1980-2010 MHz frequency band.

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“Because Omnispace’s satellites are in constant motion, just like SpaceX, the interference that Omnispace would see would be constant and pervasive for any of our satellites operating within 5,400 km of any US territory. , where SpaceX operates one satellite in its proposed SCS system. The company said back in August. Omnispace also created a map showing an “exclusion zone” to depict the regions where alleged Starlink interference would occur.

(Credit: FCC/Omnispace)

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in September, the company told the FCC that Omnispace was making false claims about Starlink cell service that posed a risk of interference. SpaceX also argued that Omnispace was focused on serving foreign customers, not US users.

“SpaceX will not cause harmful interference with Omnispace’s speculative offshore system, and Omnispace’s transformative analysis does not provide a basis for the Commission to delay the deployment of beneficial services to millions of American consumers,” the company said.

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