FCC Gives SpaceX Starlink A Major Win Against Dish Network






SpaceX’s Starlink and Dish Network have been feuding over spectrum satellite network radio band. Dish Network petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to grant the carrier access to use Starlink’s 12GHz spectrum for ground-based 5G networks. 

SpaceX had responded by suggesting allowing Dish Network to use the 12GHz spectrum could make Starlink unusable to millions of people. 

In a meeting today, the FCC decided unanimously to preserve Starlink’s satellite constellation “to preserve spectrum between 12.2 – 12.7GHz for current and future satellite services”, stating it had uncovered a number of legitimate interference risks. 

“Based on the studies filed, our engineers have concluded to date that high-powered mobile broadband, as we heard, when deployed throughout the country will interfere with established and emerging satellite services,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “I would have welcomed a path forward that would allow both services to thrive, but for now it’s time for us to adapt.”

The FCC wants ground-based celluar services to improve its current technology to avoid risks of interference before granting any network access to this satellite spectrum. Such interference risks might not be preventable, as real-world scenarios can often play out differently than expected. 

The FCC’s report went on to say:

“Even if the 5G advocates agreed to use advanced techniques for interference mitigation, that would not solve the underlying problem that a new ubiquitous 5G terrestrial service poses a significant risk of harmful interference to DBS (direct broadcast satellite).”

While this is a loss for Dish Network today, the FCC will continue investigating ways to make 12GHz spectrum available to more carriers. As research and new technological advancements develop, the chances Dish Network will be granted access in the future are still wide open. 

Dish Network is a member of the 5G for 12GHz Coalition and said “it remains committed to working with the FCC” to provide access to these spectrum bands to more networks and consumers. 

The Coalition added, “Taking steps to expand the 12GHz band will bridge the digital divide, increase competition, deliver next-generation services to consumers, spur US leadership in wireless, foster Tribal connectivity, and promote digital equity.”

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