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Dish: SpaceX Request for Mobile Starlink Service a ‘Lawless, Pirate Application’

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SpaceX’s plan to offer a Starlink service for mobile users is facing resistance from Dish Network, which is demanding that the FCC reject the company’s application for the necessary radio spectrum.

On Thursday, Dish Network sent a terse one-page filing(Opens in a new window) to the FCC, objecting to SpaceX’s request to access the 2GHz radio band to power the mobile Starlink service.

“Any such evaluation only needs to be brief. This is a lawless, pirate application. The Commission should dismiss it without accepting it for filing,” Dish said. In addition, the company wants to participate in all FCC proceedings about the matter.

Back in July, when SpaceX requested access to the 2GHz band, it noted that Dish is currently licensed to use the radio spectrum, but claimed “there is scant evidence” that the company is actually using it for mobile satellite service purposes.

“While Dish is authorized to deploy a terrestrial network operating in this band, the limited reach of its long-promised network will leave large portions of the country completely unserved by 2GHz operations,” SpaceX added.

Elon Musk’s company plans on using the 2GHz spectrum so that the mobile Starlink service can receive data from satellites orbiting the planet. The goal is to deliver “next-gen” communication services to cellular dead zones.

However, Dish told the FCC it plans on using the 2GHz band for its own ground-based 5G cellular network. The company also claims SpaceX is breaking regulatory rules by requesting access to the 2GHz radio spectrum.

“The so-called modification request also seeks authority to provide a brand new service – Mobile-Satellite Service, even as the Starlink system only has authority to provide Fixed Satellite Service,” Dish argues. “What is more, the new authority being requested would contravene almost all of the Commission’s long-settled and well-considered rules governing the 2GHz band.”

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The brewing regulatory battle risks slowing the deployment of a Starlink mobile service, especially if the FCC rules against SpaceX. Both companies are already locked in a bitter dispute over Dish’s effort to use the 12GHz band for its cellular network.

It doesn’t help that Dish Network isn’t the only company opposing SpaceX’s spectrum push for the mobile Starlink service. Last week, Globalstar—which is powering the emergency satellite connectivity feature in the iPhone 14—also told the FCC to reject SpaceX’s request for the spectrum access, but for the 1.6GHz and 2.4GHz bands.

SpaceX plans on using both bands to receive and transmit data over the mobile Starlink service. However, Globalstar is urging the FCC to deny the application over concerns it’ll generate interference when it’s already using the same 1.6/2.4GHz bands for its own satellite communication services.

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