AT&T, one of the leading telecommunications companies in the United States, has expressed reservations regarding the satellite-to-phone service proposed by T-Mobile and SpaceX’s Starlink. In an official filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), AT&T detailed its concerns, citing potential interference with existing wireless services as a primary issue.
According to a filing submitted by AT&T and highlighted by Bloomberg, the company stressed the importance of ensuring that the proposed operations do not jeopardize or inhibit the delivery of terrestrial wireless services. AT&T argued that SpaceX’s proposed use of T-Mobile’s terrestrial spectrum does not comply with FCC rules. Furthermore, the telecommunications giant stated that the companies have failed to request or justify the rule waivers necessary to authorize their proposed supplemental coverage from space (SCS) authorizations.
The collaboration between T-Mobile and SpaceX was announced in August of last year. The partnership aims to provide T-Mobile subscribers with coverage even in the most remote locations by leveraging the capabilities of Starlink’s second-generation satellites. Testing for this service is slated to begin later this year. In response to the FCC’s call for comments on T-Mobile and SpaceX’s request for SCS establishment, AT&T filed its concerns with the regulatory body.
AT&T’s filing argued that the technical showings presented by SpaceX and T-Mobile regarding the risk of harmful interference from their planned SCS deployments were insufficient. The telecommunications company asserted that the current state of the applications falls short of meeting the threshold for waiver and therefore cannot be granted without significant changes.
It is worth noting that AT&T has its own plans for a satellite service in partnership with AST SpaceMobile, a communications specialist. In April, the two companies successfully conducted a two-way satellite audio call on AT&T’s network in Texas, connecting to a Rakuten number in Japan using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone. AT&T emphasized in its filing that it intends to provide the necessary demonstrations to prove that its satellite service, in collaboration with AST SpaceMobile, will not cause interference to any authorized terrestrial system.
As the FCC continues to review T-Mobile and SpaceX’s proposal and gather input from various stakeholders, including AT&T, the future of the satellite-to-phone service remains uncertain. The concerns raised by AT&T highlight the importance of addressing potential interference issues to ensure the reliable delivery of wireless services and the smooth operation of existing infrastructure.