Starry joins 5G for 12 GHz Coalition
Starry, provider of licensed fixed wireless internet service in a handful of markets, has joined the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition, an organization devoted to making 12 GHz spectrum available for terrestrial 5G. Members range from Dish Networks to wireless ISPs and consumer groups like Public Knowledge.
The 5G for 12 GHz Coalition is embroiled in a bitter battle against SpaceX, which is using Starlink to stage a campaign aimed at preventing coalition members from being able to use the 12 GHz band.
SpaceX argues it needs the 12 GHz for Starlink, whose fans have been inundating the FCC with comments to that effect. The 5G for 12 GHz Coalition is pushing for shared use of the spectrum.
Given the coalition’s interests of serving underserved and unserved areas with 5G, Starry’s participation makes sense. It’s been pitching a $50/month fixed wireless internet service to consumers since its launch in 2016. Starry recently reported a record 9,703 net additions in the second quarter, ending with 80,950 customers, an increase of 69.4% over the year prior.
But Starry wasn’t commenting on its motive for joining the coalition beyond Starry co-founder and CEO Chet Kanojia’s statement in the press release. Starry uses licensed millimeter wave spectrum and 802.11-based technology to serve customers.
“Spectrum is an important and finite natural resource, and we believe the commission should always be proactive in its efforts to open bands for new services. Opening up this band for two-way terrestrial service can foster technological innovations, enhance competition and lead to more affordable consumer access to connectivity,” Kanojia stated. “Starry supports the commission’s goals to expand opportunities for additional operations in this band, which we believe can serve as another important tool in helping close the digital divide in communities across the country.”
Several coalition members sent a letter to the FCC yesterday pushing back on Starlink’s claims. The letter was signed by AtLink Services, A-Side Technology, GeoLinks, Globtel Holding, Go Long Wireless Group, MVD Number 53 Partners, Xiber and Broadband One.
They pointed out that Starlink has plenty of other spectrum that it can use. “Starlink has access to more than 15,000 megahertz of spectrum, with the 12 GHz band comprising a mere 3% of Starlink’s total spectrum resources,” they said. “Starlink’s political play is not only unnecessary — given its ample spectrum allocations outside the 12 GHz band — it threatens to preclude other providers from being able to offer as many options to consumers as possible.”
In addition: “Proponents for terrestrial 5G use in the 12 GHz band are responsibly advocating for greater sharing in the band alongside existing incumbent DBS satellite operations and nascent NGSO use cases. As experts have proven through nationwide technical studies submitted in this docket, such coexistence is feasible, with 99.85% of NGSO users experiencing no harmful interference alongside terrestrial 5G services in the band.”
Flurry of activity
Action over the 12 GHz band has heated up in recent weeks and days. SpaceX earlier this month started recruiting its fans to sign a petition urging the FCC and U.S. lawmakers to squash the Dish-led 5G proposal for the 12 GHz band.
That prompted the 12 GHz for 5G Coalition to respond, and several more studies or assessments of the ramifications of sharing were filed with the FCC.
This week, DirecTV submitted a study it commissioned by Savid LLC showing that high-power mobile communications can’t be introduced into the 12 GHz band without causing significant and widespread harmful interference to millions of DirecTV subscribers across the country.
In contrast, those advocating for 5G and sharing in the 12 GHz band point to an RKF Engineering Solutions study showing that 5G deployments would have no effect on at least 99.85% of non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems operations in the band.