FCC Receives Over 90,000 Comments From Starlink Users Protesting Dish Mobile Service

The Federal Communications Commission received more than 90,000 comments from Starlink users urging the agency to side with SpaceX in a spectrum battle against Dish Network. The comments have all been submitted since last week when SpaceX asked Starlink customers to comment on an FCC proceeding that seek public opinion on the “feasibility of allowing mobile services in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band while protecting incumbent operators from harmful interference”.

Dish wants to use the 12 GHz band for mobile service and says spectrum sharing would not significantly degrade satellite broadband. SpaceX says the plan would cause “harmful interference [to Starlink users] more than 77% of the time and total service outage 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans. “The satellite downlink band used by Starlink extends from 10.7 GHz to 12.7 GHz. SpaceX says it uses most of that but not the 10.7-10.95 GHz portion because it is adjacent to radio astronomy systems.

The Starlink email was sent to users on June 28. There were just over 200 comments on file for the 18-month-old proceeding. at this momentmainly satellite or telecommunications companies and pressure or defense groups.

Since then, comments appear to have come almost entirely from people submitting SpaceX’s pre-written post, in some cases unchanged and in others with the commenter’s personal opinions or experiences using Starlink. Many Starlink users have told the FCC that they live in rural areas of the United States and have no other viable broadband options. It’s possible that a single person could file multiple comments under different names, but it’s clear that SpaceX’s advocacy has resulted in an outpouring of support from people who use Starlink.

The pace of comments has not slowed in recent days. PCMag announced tuesday that “the SpaceX petition protesting Dish Network led 70,000 Starlink users to bombard the FCC with messages urging the US regulator to protect the satellite internet system”. There are now over 95,700 comments in the role. The official comment period on the 12 GHz issue came and went last year, but the agency has yet to rule on procedure.

User Feedback Shows Importance of Starlink for Rural Areas

SpaceX’s email to users directed them to a Web page titled “Don’t Let Dish Disable Your Internet”. It contains a form for submitting comments with a pre-written message that says in part: “Allowing an entirely new use of this spectrum would significantly interfere with my broadband Internet connection, which I rely on. The FCC should focus on extending connectivity to Americans, especially those who have no or poor service.The focus should not be on changing the rules to accommodate speculative and ill-defined technologies and individuals who have no no clear plans to help bridge the digital divide.

Whether SpaceX’s analysis is correct is one that FCC staff will try to answer when they review all the data. Regardless of the outcome, the large number of Starlink users who chose to add their own experiences to the pre-written commentary help demonstrate the importance of SpaceX’s low Earth orbit satellites in parts of the country neglected by Cable and fiber ISP. Here is a sampling of some of the comments we found while going through the file today:

  • i have a ranch in rural Texas and the various satellite internet services in our area were so slow that they were unusable with today’s internet needs. We installed Starlink and the service is on par with city services. It is the only viable Internet service for our needs.
  • I live in an RV and the only usable internet I found is Starlink. It allowed me to continue my education from home without the hassle of using a substandard cellular internet hotspot.
  • I live in a rural county from Northern California and we have no other internet options! Otherwise, we have frequent outages and pay far more than Starlink charges for substandard service.
  • Live in a remote place In Wisconsin there is limited broadband internet access… Starlink provides this type of internet service while most providers in the area are limited and have data caps. It’s the 21st century, high-speed internet with no data limits should be the norm.
  • I am a current Starlink user and it’s the only reasonable internet provider in my rural area. Without access to Starlink, I would not be able to work from home and the value of my property would be significantly reduced.
  • I live in rural Montana. My only internet and phone access is through Starlink. If we lose this service, we will be totally isolated. Dish does not provide Internet or telephone service in our area.
  • i am a farmer and we had no service until Starlink was available. I had experienced Dish Internet in the past and it is unreliable for business purposes. (Dish is best known for satellite television, but it also launched a satellite internet service DishNET in 2012 it was apparently arrested in 2017.)
  • Before receiving Starlink, I could only access the internet using a mobile hotspot and the system was horrible. I had to leave my house and use public Wi-Fi to download movies and games. With Starlink, I can download movies and games as fast as I could when I had cable internet. Please do not allow Dish network to interfere with Starlink.

It’s unclear how many people use Starlink in the US, but SpaceX said it has over 400,000 subscribers worldwide.

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