Advanced Television

FCC approves SpaceX D2D application

April 2, 2024

By Chris Forrester

During March the FCC approved some SpaceX applications and firmly denied others. But on March 28th it approved a request from SpaceX that was filed a few days earlier on March 25th. The application is for “experimental” (“Special Temporary Authority”) test transmissions direct-to-cellular devices from Starlink satellites.

The approval kicks in on April 15th and permits SpaceX’s second-generation broadband satellites over a large number of US cities and States. The Statewide permissions cover California, Washington, Texas and Hawaii.

The specific cities are located in Colorado, Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

The tests will include ‘direct-to-device’ and ‘beam-forming’ transmissions. Beam-forming is best tested on multiple input, multiple output satellites and in the words of one expert “Applying a maximum likelihood estimation framework to the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), the beam pattern of Starlink satellites is calculated and the beam switching schedule is estimated.”

The aim is simple: to boost the signal strength to and from receivers and handsets on the ground.

The technique has already been applied as far back as 2021 on Starlinks, and earlier on Iridium, Orbcomm and Globalstar craft in 2019 and 2020.

The test licences expire on September 28th.

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