Advanced Television

Globalstar vs SpaceX frequency battle

August 16, 2023

SpaceX wants to start supplying connectivity for a ‘direct-to-handset’ cellular service. The trouble is that Globalstar is already licensed by the FCC for its iPhone service for Apple and its permission is near-exclusive.

The SpaceX applications to the FCC started back in September last year and asked for a modification to its existing operating licence for its 1st Generation satellites which operate in the Ku and Ka-bands and which utilise the 1610-1617.775 MHz (for Earth to space) and 2483.5-2500 MHz (space to Earth) bands as well as the 2020-2025 MHz band for ‘Mobile satellite Service/MSS’ frequencies.

SpaceX, as of August 9th, is now asking for a “waiver request” to the FCC and says, if granted, “will enable SpaceX to augment its MSS capabilities and provide ‘next generation’ services to mobile users across the US and around the world including areas underserved by existing networks.”

SpaceX argues that the initial concepts behind the MSS bands was for up to five competing systems to be accommodated, noting: “Only two of which ultimately materialised. One of these, Globalstar, has enjoyed exclusive access to portions of the 1.6-2.4 GHz bands even though the FCC did not provide Globalstar with perpetual exclusive use of the bands”.

SpaceX further claims that it believes that “cutting-edge innovations” will ensure they don’t cause interference with one another.

Meanwhile, Globalstar is asking the FCC for authorisation for launch of 26 of its Gen3 sats with 12+y lifetime, extending the existing licence from 2032 to 2038. It says that its spotbeams and channels used are entirely unchanged, hence no capacity increase but improves antennas slightly. Gen2 craft will then see Gen1 satellites deorbited.

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