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Opposing Dish’s 5G plan due to interference issues, DirecTV joins SpaceX

DirecTV is joining SpaceX to oppose a Dish Network plan to use 12GHz spectrum for a 5G cellular network. DirecTV filed(Opens in a new window) its opposition to the proposal on Monday, and like SpaceX, it argues that Dish’s proposal to use 12GHz spectrum risks disrupting other satellite services, including DirecTV’s own satellite dishes.

“A new mobile service in the 12GHz band would cause severe and widespread interference to DirecTV subscribers in all areas of the country, whether urban, suburban, or rural,” the company wrote in the filing.

To back up the claims, DirecTV commissioned its own study on the matter from a San Francisco-based satellite consultancy called SAVID, which “made several conservative assumptions that significantly understate the indicated interference,” DirecTV said. This included ignoring potential interference from surrounding smartphones communicating with the proposed 12GHz 5G cellular network. But even so, the study found the risk of interference was pervasive for urban, suburban, and rural areas.

“The analysis concludes that mobile operations in the band would cause extensive harmful interference to DirectTV receivers, exceeding the limits currently in place to protect DBS (direct broadcast satellite) customers by a factor of 100 to 100,000 over areas extending well beyond the intended coverage area of the mobile base stations,” the company said.

The filing goes on to urge the FCC to reject Dish’s proposal and secure the 12GHz access for satellite providers. “Unlike broadband systems, which can replace lost packets through two-way communications, DBS packets lost to interference result in frozen video screens—and canceled subscriptions,” DirecTV added.

The company has become the latest party to side with SpaceX in the regulatory dispute. Last week, UK-based satellite internet provider OneWeb did the same.

Like DirecTV, SpaceX currently uses the 12GHz band for downlink purposes. But it fears Dish’s 5G proposal risks making the company’s satellite internet service Starlink “unusable” for thousands of customers across the US.

Dish Network didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company is part of an industry coalition(Opens in a new window) that argues a 12GHz 5G cellular network can coexist with satellite services without causing major interference, citing its own third-party study on the matter.

Last week, Dish also met with FCC officials, including Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, partly to discuss securing access to the 12GHz band for the company’s 5G network. In doing so, the company called out SpaceX’s efforts to rally Starlink users against Dish’s proposal.

“Starlink’s latest filing, part of an ongoing misinformation campaign initiated by the company, is both scientifically and logically flawed,” Dish told FCC officials last week, according to a filing(Opens in a new window) with the commission.

The filing added: “Since 1996, Dish has been the primary user of the 12GHz band to provide service to our satellite TV customers. Dish has no interest in harming its own —or any other— customers, and wants to share the band between satellite and terrestrial operations.” BollyInside

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