SpaceX asks FCC for sat-links to vehicles
March 9, 2021
By Chris Forrester
SpaceX, which is moving ahead with its broadband-by-satellite service, is asking the FCC for permission to beam signals to moving vehicles, vessels and aircraft.
If granted, the SpaceX services will be ‘blanket licensed’ under the FCC’s existing ‘Earth Stations in Motion’ rules and be capable of handling internet services to any moving vehicle including cars and trucks, ships and aircraft serving passengers.
The request to the FCC said: “SpaceX Services seeks authority to deploy and operate these earth stations:
(1) as Vehicle-mounted Earth Stations throughout the US and its territories,
(2) as Earth Stations on Vessels in the territorial waters of the US and throughout international waters worldwide, and
(3) as Earth Stations aboard Aircraft on US-registered aircraft operating worldwide and non-US-registered aircraft operating in US airspace.
SpaceX in its submission said it was no longer satisfactory for drivers to lose connectivity while on the move. “To help meet this demand, SpaceX has deployed an innovative, cost-effective, and spectrum-efficient satellite system capable of delivering robust broadband service to customers around the world, particularly in unserved and underserved areas,” states SpaceX.
“Consistent with SpaceX’s space station authorization, these ‘Earth Stations in Motion’ will be transmitting the 14.0-14.5 GHz band and receive in the 10.7-12.7 GHz band,” said SpaceX, adding “To support its ambitious timetable for launching and expanding innovative satellite broadband services, SpaceX Services requests that the Commission grant the requested blanket license as expeditiously as possible.”
However, the SpaceX request – if approved – could have a considerable impact on the traditional satellite operators which supply connectivity in the maritime and aircraft market. Land-based vehicle access (other than military) is a new market but Inmarsat, Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, Iridium and the other regional satellite operators could all suffer from a low-cost service from SpaceX’s Starlink.