AT&T fiercely opposes Starlink’s rural cellular test, forecasting disruption. Their clash over airspace signals a larger battle. Rural connectivity stakes are high, and AT&T is determined to lead. This clash isn’t just about technology; it’s a clash reflecting competing visions for rural communication’s future.
SpaceX is facing opposition from AT&T and the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) in its efforts to conduct a satellite test for the Starlink cellular service. SpaceX filed an application for “special temporary authority (STA)” to test a second-generation Starlink satellite, equipped with direct-to-cellular communication capabilities, as early as December 1. The test aims to connect unmodified cellular phones directly to SpaceX Gen2 satellites, using T-Mobile’s PCS G-Block radio spectrum. However, both AT&T and the RWA have filed regulatory complaints with the FCC opposing the test. They argue that SpaceX is pursuing the wrong regulatory process and should obtain an experimental license from the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology before proceeding with the test. SpaceX has called for the FCC to approve its STA quickly, claiming that AT&T and the RWA’s opposition is based on baseless procedural claims.
The Starlink cellular service is part of SpaceX’s plan to provide satellite-based broadband connectivity and is expected to compete with other cellular satellite systems, including AST Space Mobile, in which AT&T is a partner.