FCC Denies SpaceX Competitors Claims Against Company

SpaceX, the operator of the Starlink satellite communications network, today received a decision from the FCC regarding a competitor’s claim and a request from the company itself to lower the altitude of its satellites. The FCC refused to consider complaints from Viasat, Hughes, Dish Network, OneWeb, Kuiper regarding Starlink. These companies suddenly announced that their equipment was interfering with the performance of their own systems.

Another nice thing for Starlink is that the regulator agreed that this would increase the data transfer rate and at the same time reduce the latency. In addition, it is easier to “pull off” a satellite from a low orbit into the atmosphere after its failure or the end of its service life. In a similar way, you can more easily solve the problem of space debris. Read more about everything under the cut.

What About Competitors?

Companies that consider SpaceX to be their rivals regularly file complaints against the competitor. In particular, they argue that there is no guarantee that the company will fulfill everything that it promised, since its technologies have not yet been fully tested. Moreover, the network is far from being available everywhere.

Starlink was once called a “simple science experiment” for which huge public funds were allocated. We are talking about receiving $ 885.51 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Over the course of ten years, the company will receive about $ 88.5 million every year. This is certainly not to the liking of competitors.

In a statement, competitors said: “The satellite network is still in beta testing, so communication is not available everywhere, and questions remain. At the same time, the satellite network has not yet demonstrated the combination of speed and latency previously promised by the company. ” Well, plus the representatives of the group believe that the allocation of funds to companies that are just testing their technologies is not a justified step on the part of the FCC, especially since SpaceX does not need much funding from the outside.

The good news is that the regulator denied claims on all counts, including both a possible decrease in the number of satellites launched by SpaceX and a protest against the decrease in the altitude of the orbits of the vehicles.

In the document submitted to the regulator, saidthat the move will increase the incidence of line interference as SpaceX’s upgraded antennas and wider beam will interfere with other companies’ equipment.

The FCC agreed that some interference is indeed possible, but it will not be significant, so that Musk satellites will not interfere with the operation of equipment from all other companies.

The total number of SpaceX satellites in orbit has already exceeded 1,300 and continues to grow. This allows the company to achieve its goals and deliver on its promises to provide a network with a bandwidth of 50 to 150 Mbps and latencies of 20 to 40 ms. Later this year, Musk announced an increase in bandwidth to 300 Mbps and expansion of coverage to almost the entire surface area of ​​the planet.

Why lower the orbit of satellites?

FCC representatives said they agree with Starlink’s opinion – lowering the orbit will really help improve the quality of communications. This applies to both increasing the bandwidth of the wireless network and reducing latency.

In addition, the FCC commented on the situation with space debris: “Deployment at a lower altitude ensures that satellites are removed from orbit in a relatively short period of time and, therefore, reduces the threat of an increase in the amount of orbital debris.”

All this did not start suddenly, back in 2018 the company asked the regulator to allow 4425 communication satellites to be sent into orbit at an altitude of 1110 to 1325 km. In 2019, the FCC authorized the use of low orbit for 1,500 vehicles. Now SpaceX has applied for an additional license and received permission to reduce the orbit of satellites to 540-570 km.

The company received a separate permission from the regulator to launch 7,518 satellites into lower orbits – 335-336 km. SpaceX does not stop there and has applied to launch another 30,000 satellites, with orbital heights of 328 – 614 km.

You don’t need to be afraid of the Mask

In fact, the Chinese should not be afraid of Musk, but the Chinese, who have developed a tumultuous work to create their own satellite network of the global Internet. This is because if SpaceX can somehow be “put under pressure” through the regulator, but you cannot influence China in any way, it has its own regulator, and the Celestial Empire’s FCC is not a decree.

So if the PRC decides to send its satellites into orbit, which will actually interfere with the equipment of other companies (such a possibility is not excluded), then all SpaceX competitors will have major problems.

The Chinese are going to launch no fewer vehicles than the United States. Thus, China Telecom plans to send at least 10,000 into orbit in the next five years. The network will be named China StarNet. Spacety launches observation satellites into orbit – at the moment 20 of them are already in operation. Another company, GW, is implementing a project to launch about 13,000 communications satellites into orbit. They will be divided into two bands, the corresponding satellite groups are called GW-A59 and GW-2.

Other companies also have their own projects to form satellite orbital groups, including Zhuhai Orbita, GalaxySpace, MinoSpace, LaserFleet, Head Aerospace. They will develop a variety of communication services, including broadband Internet, 5G, IoT and others. All these projects envisage launching tens of thousands of communication satellites over the next few years.

The total number of satellites that China is going to launch into orbit will be 30,000 – 40,000. The United States plans to send about the same number of satellites.

But in reality, China is unlikely to create technical problems for other companies. But he will be a dangerous competitor – and nothing can be done about it. And probably not worth it.

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