Bad news for Elon Musk as US govt toughens stance over Starlink’s direct phone connectivity bid

A recent report highlighted that Elon Musk-owned SpaceX is on track to record a $9 billion revenue, with projections for operating profits. Its new venture, Starlink, the satellite internet service provider, has begun contributing to the revenue significantly now. Musk also has big plans for the venture as the company is expected to launch Starlink cellular service, which will provide satellite-based messaging and internet facilities to smartphones. The service is planned to be launched in 2024, but ahead of schedule, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has sent a set of questions to SpaceX over concerns around certain matters.

As per a report by PC Mag, the FCC has shared an additional set of questions with SpaceX to better understand the impact of this cellular service on the functioning of other satellites. The primary concern of the FCC is whether there is a possibility of interference when Starlink cellular service operates in the 1910 to 1995MHz radio bands.

FCC questions SpaceX ahead of Starlink cellular’s launch

The FCC asked, “Please provide an interference analysis, including link budgets, for operations in the 1990-1995MHz (space-to-Earth) and 1910-1915 MHz (Earth-to-space) bands, calculating the difference in interference in clear sky and rain fade or cloud cover conditions. This analysis should take into account the worst-case scenario of all satellites transmitting at the same time, including different power levels required for rain fade and cloud cover as well as clear sky conditions over a particular area of coverage, and analyze the resultant level of interference produced and the possibility of loss of service by other authorized satellite and terrestrial operators in that area”.

With as many as 7500 satellites, the concerns over frequency interference have been significant ever since the first batch of Starlink satellites was launched in the low-Earth orbit. To provide this cellular service, Starlink with tie-up with T-Mobile, and that’s why the US agency intends to better understand the short-term and long-term impact.

The FCC also asked SpaceX to share a map with projected beam coverage for the United States and power levels within the geographic areas, additional information regarding SpaceX’s capability to cease emissions on command, and explain how will SpaceX prevent the operation of a handset that is outside the service area of its partner terrestrial operator.

The FCC has requested this information by November 17 and it will decide on whether to approve or not on its basis.

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