SpaceX FCC battles Michael Dell affiliate Dish over broadband usage – Reuters

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks about the Starlink project at the MWC Hybrid Keynote during the second day of Mobile World Congress on June 29, 2021 in Barcelona, ​​​​Spain.

Nurfoto | Nurfoto | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Tuesday escalated a battle over broadband regulation with Dish Network and a subsidiary of billionaire Michael Dell, calling on the Federal Communications Commission to resolve lingering disputes over broadband usage that could interfere with your Starlink satellite Internet network.

At the heart of the dispute is the use of the 12 gigahertz band, a band of frequencies used for broadband communications, and the frequency’s ability to support terrestrial and space services.

In January 2021, the FCC issued a notice seeking comment on how best to use the 12 gigahertz band. Dish and RS Access, funded by the Dell investment firm, have published studies claiming that terrestrial 5G networks can share frequency with low-Earth-orbiting satellite networks such as Starlink or OneWeb.

SpaceX presented its own analysis of the Dish and RS Access studies on Tuesday, saying it corrected what it called “some of the more blatant assumptions” in the reports and arguing that Starlink users would see interference to the point of causing disruption. “74% of the time. »

Musk’s company asked the FCC “to investigate whether DISH and RS Access have reported intentionally misleading”, noting that the studies did not match Dish’s findings two years earlier, which called the use of sharing “unsustainable”. In response, a Dish spokesperson told CNBC that “the company’s expert engineers are evaluating SpaceX’s claims in the filing.”

SpaceX is not alone in opposing a potential expansion of 12 gigahertz usage. Telecommunications companies such as AT&T, tech giants Google and Microsoft, and satellite network operators such as Intelsat, OneWeb and SES have submitted comments to the FCC against the change.

Senior SpaceX officials told CNBC that the company hopes its response will lead the FCC to a conclusion on the 12 gigahertz issue, describing the possibility of a ruling in favor of Dish and RS Access as an unlikely but existential threat. for the company. Starlink. network.

“Leaving the procedure open simply cannot be justified on political or technical grounds. In the six years the Commission has allowed this process to get worse, satellite operators have been forced to spend countless engineering hours responding to frivolous arguments from DISH and RS Access. “SpaceX Senior Director of Satellite Policy David Goldman wrote in a letter to the FCC on Tuesday.

SpaceX has launched around 2,700 Starlink satellites into orbit to date, with nearly 500,000 users and its manufacturing line producing around 30,000 satellite dishes a week.

The FCC declined CNBC’s request for comment when it plans to issue a ruling on the 12 gigahertz band.

Spectrum rights

Dish Networks is exhibiting at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

Justin Solomon | CNBC

Dish and RS Access lead a coalition of companies that hold FCC terrestrial licenses in the 12 gigahertz band, with the pair of entities representing the two largest licensees in that frequency band. While Dish is best known for providing satellite television services, the company has acquired large swaths of spectrum.

For years, Dish maintained that it would use its valuable spectrum rights. Recently, as the FCC deadline approached, Dish launched its “Project Genesis” network of 5G service, which the company said meets a government requirement to provide service to more than 20% of the American population. Whether Dish’s network actually meets that threshold is disputed, according to The Verge’s testing of the service.

“DISH has never fulfilled its repeated promises to launch a new terrestrial network using the exclusive licenses already stored in its warehouses. The Commission simply cannot offer more spectrum to an operator with this record of broken promises and idle consumers,” Goldman said. wrote in SpaceX’s letter to the FCC.

Dish did not immediately comment to the Project Genesis network in response to CNBC.

Dish has already faced repercussions from the FCC over spectrum rights. In an independent decision by the US Court of Appeals on Tuesday, a federal judge upheld an FCC ruling that Dish had “de facto control” over two other companies, Bloomberg reported. The deal violated spectrum auction rules by acquiring $3.3 billion in auction credits aimed at small businesses, according to the report.

Read SpaceX’s letter to the FCC here.

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