AT&T Wants to Block SpaceX’s Starlink & T-Mobile Satellite Phone Service





On May 18th, AT&T filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to reject the recently approved proposal between SpaceX and T-Mobile. ATT&T claims this plan could cause interference with its terrestrial wireless services which are licensed to utilize an adjacent spectrum with supplemental coverage from space. SpaceX claims that its satellite constellations will have no ill effect on competitors’ networks and will cause no disruptions.

AT&T’s comments in the filing read:

“The FCC’s rules do not permit SpaceX’s proposed use of T-Mobile’s terrestrial spectrum, and Applicants fail to even request — much less justify — rule waivers that would be necessary to authorize their proposed SCS authorizations. More broadly, the Applicants’ technical showings are woefully insufficient regarding the risk of harmful interference posed by their planned SCS deployments. SpaceX and T-Mobile’s applications fall far short of meeting the threshold for waiver and cannot be granted in their current state.”

The filing goes on to state, “In its request for waiver of the ToFA, SpaceX baldly asserts that it plans to operate on an ‘unprotected, non-interference basis.’ This barebones assertion fails to offer the compelling showing needed to justify waiver,” and ”applicants do not meet that burden here.”

The FCC had unanimously voted to approve SpaceX’s Starlink service to partner with T-Mobile to provide phone services in remote and rural areas that cannot currently or reliably connect to such services. The FCC also approved the launching of 7,500 new second-generation Starlink satellites and later this year start testing with T-Mobile.

The FCC still has the power to require mandatory changes or even fully reject Starlink and T-Mobile’s plan. AT&T’s filing could cause some alterations to the current FCC-approved plan and has outlined the company’s full concerns. SpaceX plans to begin testing its Starlink satellite service with T-Mobile this year, but an official date has yet to be specified. 

Last week, SpaceX won a similarly themed complaint filed by Dish Network, who sought to tap into Starlink’s 12GHz spectrum. SpaceX responded with a claim doing so would make Starlink unusable to millions of people and the FCC voted to “preserve spectrum between 12.2 – 12.6GHz for current and future satellite services” and found numerous legitimate interference risks. What this ruling says regarding AT&T’s filing is still yet to be decided. 

Check back with Cord Cutters News as further information is released surrounding AT&T’s filing.

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