At the end of last year, it was revealed that SpaceX intended to equip its Starlink telecommunication satellites with technology that would enable them for use in mobile communication, allowing ordinary smartphones to connect without any modifications. Now, it has been reported that Elon Musk's company plans to commence testing satellite mobile communication services using 840 space-based devices as early as next month.
This week, SpaceX submitted an application to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking a license for experimental testing of mobile communication services via Starlink satellites. While the regulator deliberates on the advisability of granting SpaceX a full license to provide mobile communication services to customers, concerns have been raised about the potential quality of the services.
Documents submitted to the FCC indicate that SpaceX is requesting "special temporary authority" for a series of tests starting on December 10, spanning a period of 180 days. During this time, SpaceX, in partnership with T-Mobile, plans to conduct mobile communication tests using the licensed frequency spectrum of the mobile operator to transmit signals from satellites to 2,000 test devices.
"During the experimental period of 180 days, SpaceX plans to operate around 840 satellites for direct mobile communication. At any given time, 60 out of the 840 satellites will serve mobile phones in the United States under this experimental authorization," states SpaceX's application. The company aims to test satellite mobile communication in 13 areas across the country, including Mountain View in California, Kansas City in Kansas, and Houston in Texas.
It's worth noting that this is not the first time SpaceX has applied for mobile communication testing. A similar application was submitted in October, proposing approval for tests within 60 days. However, AT&T and the Rural Wireless Association opposed the application, stating that SpaceX should have applied to the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology for a temporary license. The application submitted by SpaceX this week was directed precisely to this FCC division.