SpaceX Seeks FCC Approval To Begin Mobile Connectivity Tests

SpaceX is seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct experimental tests of its Starlink satellite-based cellular system. The company aims to use 840 satellites to establish connectivity with 2,000 mobile devices.

According to the filing, SpaceX wants the testing period to start on December 10 and last for 180 days. The experimental license application outlines plans to partner with T-Mobile and operate within the carrier’s licensed radio spectrum. The proposed tests span 13 locations across the United States, including Mountain View, California; Kansas City, Kansas; and Houston, Texas. (via PCMag)

This move follows SpaceX’s recent application, addressing concerns raised by AT&T and the Rural Wireless Association, seeking FCC authorization for a similar test over a 60-day period starting in December. The company’s new application emphasizes a commitment to conducting real-world tests, measuring signal strength from both Starlink satellites and T-Mobile handsets on the ground, ensuring the absence of harmful interference.

SpaceX envisions Starlink’s cellular system sending text messages, voice calls, and data connections from space, utilizing T-Mobile’s radio airwaves. The collaboration with T-Mobile aims to eliminate dead zones in remote and underdeveloped areas, expanding coverage beyond the limitations of traditional ground networks.

Despite prior opposition, SpaceX asserts that its Starlink system poses no threat to existing services and promises to take “all reasonable steps” to address interference concerns. The company urges the FCC to grant approval swiftly, emphasizing the potential benefits for consumers without compromising other licensed operators.

While SpaceX will be conducting these initial tests with T-Mobile, other carriers around the world have also signed on to be part of the Direct-to-Cell network. In Canada Rogers signed a deal with SpaceX earlier this year, while other carriers to join include KDDI in Japan and One NZ in New Zealand.

You can read the full filing below.

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