FCC Halts SpaceX Spectrum Bid, Demands Public Rulemaking Process

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated SpaceX to undergo a formal rulemaking process if it wants more spectrum for Starlink.

The decision comes after the FCC rejected SpaceX’s application to use the 1.6GHz and 2GHz radio spectrums due to a technicality, highlighting the need for public commentary before any decision can be reached.

SpaceX’s initial request aimed at enhancing its cellular Starlink system, proposing to utilize additional radio spectrums to offer “increased capacity, reduced latency, and broader service coverage,” especially targeting areas currently underserved by existing networks, reports PCMag.

The company emphasized the transformative changes in the satellite landscape over the years, arguing for the potential coexistence with other satellite services through advanced technological solutions such as phased arrays and beam scheduling protocols.

However, the FCC’s scrutiny revealed SpaceX’s application did not align with existing policies that have previously allocated the 1.6GHz and 2.4GHz spectrums to Globalstar and Iridium, raising concerns over spectrum sharing and interference. The commission underscored the necessity of a new rulemaking to evaluate the availability for another CDMA MSS system in the targeted bands and to establish suitable operating criteria.

Despite this setback, the FCC initiated proceedings to potentially revise rules to accommodate SpaceX’s request, inviting public comments until April 25. The decision signals a forthcoming regulatory battle, with competitors like Dish Network’s EchoStar already expressing opposition, citing the risk of radio interference.