iPhone 14 Satellite Provider to Fight SpaceX’s Starlink Over Spectrum Access

Globalstar, the company behind the iPhone 14’s satellite connectivityis fighting a SpaceX effort to use the same radio spectrum for its star link satellite mobile service.

The dispute concerns the 1.6GHz and 2.4GHz bands, which Globalstar already uses for its own satellite communication services, including for the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS feature. Last week, SpaceX asked the Federal Communications Commission for access to the same spectrum so that star link can deliver connectivity to mobile devices.

Globalstar initially remained mum on how it would respond to SpaceX’s plan. But on Thursday, the company felt(Opens in a new window) its own public filing to the FCC, demanding it deny the spectrum access.

“The Commission should reject this request, which lacks sufficient technical justification, contradicts settled Commission precedent, and jeopardizes important public interest-enhancing services including emergency services provided by Globalstar and its partners for more than two decades,” the filing says.

Globalstar’s main flu is about SpaceX potentially causing communication interference with its own satellite systems. “SpaceX has offered no data and no assessment, and has not demonstrated that the addition of SpaceX’s proposed operations in Globalstar’s licensed spectrum band could happen without creating a substantial and untenable risk to Globalstar’s MSS (mobile satellite service) network and customers,” the filing says.

Globalstar also argues it needs protected access to the 1.6/2.4GHz bands, given that the company is now going to power emergency satellite connectivity for the iPhone 14, which is expected to be sold to millions of consumers. The company is also questioning why SpaceX is requesting access to the 1.6/2.4 GHz band when it could pursue access to other radio spectrum.

iPhone emergency sos feature

(Credit: Apple)

“Based on the scant data provided to date, SpaceX has not demonstrated that a successful coordination between Globalstar and SpaceX is possible or that harmful interference would not be expected from SpaceX’s operations to Globalstar’s MSS network,” the filing adds.

The resistance from Globalstar is poised to spark a regulatory battle that could delay SpaceX’s plans for a satellite mobile service through Starlink unless the FCC comes to a decision soon. Elon Musk’s company plans on using(Opens in a new window) the 1.6GHz and 2GHz bands for uploading purposes while the 2.4GHz spectrum will be used for downlinking. It’s also been developing a modular payload that can attach to Starlink satellites to communicate over the requested radio bands.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in its own filing last week, the company noted(Opens in a new window): “Globalstar has enjoyed exclusive access to portions of the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands, even though the Commission did not provide Globalstar with perpetual exclusive use of the bands.”

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The SpaceX filing also stresses it can operate in the 1.6/2.4GHz bands without causing interference through proper coordination with other satellite providers and using various technologies in the Starlink constellation.

However, Globalstar argues: “Vague statements provide no basis for Commission action, especially when harmful interference could upend the safety-of-life services that Globalstar provides to consumers and inflict irreparable harm on Globalstar’s MSS business.”

The company adds: “Globalstar is eager to compete with MSS systems operating on unused or otherwise available spectrum, but the Commission should summarily reject unsubstantiated requests that would undercut regulatory certainty and stability and threaten harmful interference to Globalstar’s systems.”

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