Omnispace challenges SpaceX & T-Mobile partnership, citing interference concerns for satellite network

Satellite constellation operator Omnispace has voiced their concerns over potential interference with its system due to the planned phone service collaboration between SpaceX and T-Mobile in the US. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Omnispace accuses SpaceX of committing “elementary errors” in its calculations.

SpaceX and T-Mobile announced their plan to use Starlink’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide comprehensive cellular connectivity across the US. However, Omnispace, a global non-geostationary satellite infrastructure provider specializing in 5G and IoT services, claims that the interference caused by SpaceX’s satellites will be more than just transient, saying that it will be a constant issue. (via The Register)

The clash stems from SpaceX’s presentation to the FCC in July, where the company asserted that its partnership with T-Mobile would offer widespread connectivity without causing harmful interference. Omnispace’s letter, dated August 18, 2023 emphasizes unique challenges posed by satellite infrastructure, which differ from terrestrial networks. The company highlights discrepancies in uplink and downlink allocations between the American terrestrial assignment system and the international mobile-satellite uplink-downlink allocation used by the International Telecommunication Union.

Omnispace contends that even a single distant transmitter in space can cause significant interference due to the minimal power reduction in the vacuum environment of space. The satellite network operator criticizes SpaceX for underestimating the interference impact and alleges an “elementary error” in the calculations, emphasizing that the interference will persist due to the constant movement of both satellite constellations.

“Omnispace believes SpaceX’s antenna performance assumptions are unachievable and therefore the actual interference levels will be far greater than SpaceX portrays,” the company writes.

The rivalry is complex yet intriguing, considering that Omnispace itself has relied on SpaceX’s launch services to deploy its satellites. The company acknowledges the need to collaborate with SpaceX despite the brewing conflict. With both parties presenting their cases and evidence to the FCC, the fate of their coexistence hangs in the balance.

You can read the full 14-page letter below.

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