AT&T Wants to Spoil Your Satellite Phone Service Party

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AT&T and the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) are challenging SpaceX and T-Mobile’s collaborative efforts to test their satellite phone service.

  • The entry of Starlink into the market could lead to a more competitive landscape, prompting adjustments in pricing by established players.
  • The opposition from AT&T and RWA, if successful, could potentially limit the availability of a reliable cellular service.

AT&T and the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) are opposing SpaceX and T-Mobile testing their Starlink cellular service collaboration. SpaceX responds.

In collaboration with T-Mobile, SpaceX seeks to connect unmodified cellular phones directly to SpaceX Gen2 satellites, offering a direct-to-cellular service that could transform the way we access the internet and communicate.

Earlier this month, SpaceX filed a “special temporary authority (STA)” application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The aerospace company is planning to commence satellite testing for its Gen2 Starlink service by December 1. The test would utilize T-Mobile’s “PCS G-Block” radio spectrum to beam data directly to smartphones. This direct-to-cellular connectivity is set to bring high-speed internet access to remote and underserved areas. That’s around 37% of the global population.

However, AT&T and the RWA have voiced their objections. They argue that SpaceX is pursuing the wrong regulatory process and should obtain an experimental license from the Office of Engineering and Technology before conducting real-world tests. They insist that SpaceX must demonstrate that its Starlink cellular service won’t interfere with other carriers’ operations before moving forward with the project.

In response, SpaceX issued a fiery rebuttal, “AT&T and DISH-mouthpiece the Rural Wireless Association (“RWA”) have seemingly coordinated a desperate, 11th-hour campaign to prevent it.” SpaceX emphasized the importance of achieving FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s goal of providing “a system that will finally bring ubiquitous connectivity across the country.” The filing also dismisses AT&T and RWA’s concerns as “baseless procedural claims” that offer “no substantive reason to deny the application.”

Here’s why you should care:

  1. Prices: Starlink entering the industry would broaden the competitor pool. Forcing those with a bigger share of the market to adjust their prices. Better prices for YOU.
  2. Coverage: Rural areas and remote communities don’t have the best signal. Starlink cellular service would take care of that.
  3. Reliability: The service is satellite-based, meaning it won’t be affected by weather events and other disruptions.
  4. High-Internet Access: Consumers will have access to faster data speeds, allowing for smoother video streaming, online gaming, and other data-intensive activities.

Pardon the doom and gloom but considering what’s happening around us from natural disasters and man-made catastrophes, satellite-based cellular services would be lifesaving. A disaster relief worker, for example, could use Starlink to stay connected with their team and coordinate their response efforts in an area where the cellular network has been down.

AT&T and RWA’s reasons for blocking the testing are self-serving at best and sabotaging YOU, the consumer, at worst.

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