Starlink seeking regulatory clearance for international cellular service trials

A filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revealed that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is seeking regulatory approval to expand trials of its cellular Starlink system to other countries. The filing proposes a 180-day testing period for the technology starting May 1, and it would cover countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. 

Trials will utilize SpaceX’s “Direct to Cell” satellites to deliver internet connectivity directly to unmodified mobile phones. In the US, SpaceX is looking to deliver cellular service through a partnership with T-Mobile. For international deployments, the private space company will depend on partnerships with local carriers, such as Rogers in Canada, Optus in Australia, One New Zealand in New Zealand, and KDDI in Japan.

“SpaceX notes that, like in the United States, the proposed testing will occur in spectrum bands and geographic areas where its mobile partners are the sole domestic licensee. SpaceX has executed spectrum access arrangements with mobile partners around the world, granting SpaceX permissions to use agreed upon ranges of its mobile partner’s licensed spectrum for SCS operations in their licensed areas in these international jurisdictions,” SpaceX’s FCC filing read. 

SpaceX has established agreements with seven carriers for cellular Starlink testing, with potential expansion to four additional markets, as noted in a PCMag report. The FCC filing also indicated that SpaceX has established supplemental coverage partnerships in Chile, Peru, and Switzerland. 

SpaceX’s request comes just weeks after the company received clearance from the FCC to expand its cellular Starlink tests in the United States. SpaceX is looking to launch as many as 840 Starlink satellites with direct-to-cell capabilities in the coming months. Expectations are also high that T-Mobile customers in the United States may get access to cellular Starlink services later this year, provided that SpaceX secures FCC approval. 

SpaceX’s filing to the FCC about its plans for international cellular Starlink tests can be viewed below. 

Starlink Cellular 1 by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

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Starlink seeking regulatory clearance for international cellular service trials
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