Starlink clashes with Telecom Italia over frequency data sharing

Refusal to play ball may result in satellite operator moving investment elsewhere

Starlink is reportedly facing obstructions to its expansion in the Mediterranean from Telecom Italia, which it claims is refusing to share data that would help to avoid interference between the two operators.

The satellite broadband operator has filed a complaint with Italy's telecoms regulator regarding Telecom Italia, one of the largest operators in the country, according to Bloomberg.

Starlink claims the company is not complying with regulations that require it to share frequency data. This information is necessary to let it to operate safely in southern Europe and North Africa without interfering with existing services.

We asked Starlink and Telecom Italia for comment, and contacted the regulator Agcom for a statement regarding the matter.

According to the private document seen by Bloomberg, lack of access to the frequency data is severely slowing Starlink's deployment of new gateway equipment, ground stations that link its satellite constellation with the terrestrial internet.

Telecom Italia "has clearly informed Starlink that it doesn't want to coordinate," the document states. In response, the Musk-owned satellite operator is pushing for the regulator and Italy's Industry Ministry to lean on Telecom Italia to cooperate, warning it may shift investment from Italy to other European countries if the situation is not resolved.

For its part, Telecom Italia informed Bloomberg that this does not take into account ongoing discussions. The company had previously said that Starlink should not be allowed to operate using certain frequencies for unspecified technical reasons.

The news comes after Starlink was rebuffed in the US last week by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over an application to use radio spectrum in the 1.6/2.4 GHz and 2 GHz bands for its planned Direct to Cell service that offers mobile phone connectivity via satellite.

The FCC dismissed Starlink's filing as unacceptable, saying the company had applied for modification of an existing authorization to deploy and operate up to 7,500 Gen2 satellites to include authority for operations using the 1.6/2.4 GHz and 2 GHz bands.

After reviewing the application, the FCC ruled [PDF] that those bands are currently unavailable for additional mobile satellite service (MSS) operations, and that requests to operate in these bands do not comply with Commission requirements.

Should it decide to make the 1.6/2.4 GHz and 2 GHz bands available for additional MSS applicants in the future, SpaceX will be able to reapply under that revised framework, the FCC said.

Starlink and its SpaceX parent were granted approval at the end of last year to run trials of the Direct to Cell service using frequencies in the 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz bands, otherwise known as the PCS G Block, with the cooperation of T-Mobile USA, which is the licensee of those bands. ®

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