SpaceX accuses Dish of 'faulty' analysis in ongoing battle over 5G spectrum

Its use of 12GHz frequencies would render Starlink 'unusable for most Americans.'


Dish's plan to use 12GHz radio spectrum for its 5G network could drastically affect the Starlink satellite internet network, SpaceX said in a letter to the FCC. "If Dish’s lobbying efforts succeed, our study shows that Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77 percent of the time and total outage of service 74 percent of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans," wrote SpaceX senior director David Goldman.

Dish has asked the FCC to allow it to use the 12Ghz band for a terrestrial 5G network, despite potential satellite interference with Starlink and other services, including its own Dish Network. Dish and its allies in the 5Gfor12GHz coalition recently published research saying that doing so would be "highly feasible" and that Starlink and similar services "will experience zero harmful interference with 5G."

However, SpaceX called the analysis "faulty" and told the FCC that "no reasonable engineer" would believe the studies. "SpaceX urges the Commission to investigate whether Dish and [Dell-owned] RS Access filed intentionally misleading reports," it said. The Elon Musk-owned company also pointed out that the studies don't align with Dish's own filings from December 2019 that "concurrent sharing of spectrum... is not viable in the 12 GHz band."

Dish said that its "expert engineers are evaluating SpaceX's claims in the filing," in a statement to CNN Business, but there's no comment yet from the FCC. Previously, FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel called the case "one of the most complex dockets we have... it's going to take a lot of technical work to make sure that the airwaves can accommodate all those different uses without harmful interference."

Spectrum battles have been waged frequently over the last several years, with one of the most recent being over potential 5G interference with aviation usage. Recent studies have found that countries exploiting spectrum have significantly expanded their economies compared to other nations.