Starlink gets tough with Apple/Globalstar
February 8, 2024
Currently SpaceX’s Starlink system dominates satellite-based broadband and the potential for ‘direct-to-device’ (MSS: Mobile Satellite Service) communications. However, Globalstar is rolling out its smaller constellation and has Apple helping finance its expansion.
The initial problem is that both outfits use the same frequencies (as does Dish Network). SpaceX formally complained to the FCC on February 5th that it is time for the FCC to update its sharing rules.
Globalstar wants to launch up to 3,080 satellites into low Earth orbit.
But there might also be a third active player in the shape of Kepler Communications which also filed a letter to the FCC on February 6th asking the FCC “to dismiss or deny” Globalstar’s application to modify its existing MSS licence. Canada-based Kepler is building shoebox sized satellites for Internet of Things and other usage. It already has 18 active small satellites in orbit.
The frequencies are 1.6/2.4 GHz and 2 GHz bands and SpaceX says that the FCC has not updated its sharing rules for more than 10 years.
SpaceX told the FCC that it was prepared to “hold in abeyance” its own applications for these spectrum bands while updated rules are made. However, it also says that to ensure all applicants are treated equally the FCC should also hold other applications in abeyance and implement a freeze on new or modified applications for MSS activity in these bands.
Currently, the only businesses with applications pending are SpaceX and Globalstar.
SpaceX added in its submission that modernising the FCC’s rules would better reflect technology advancements.