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Starlink vs. 5G: The Internet Space Race

July 18, 2022

As modern civilization continues to demand stronger, faster, more powerful internet service, companies are racing to be the most attractive option. Two of the most dominant providers in the race are currently battling it out, apparently physically unable to share the market.

SpaceX, created and run by the entrepreneur-turned-tech giant Elon Musk, is attempting to expand its high-speed satellite internet known as “Starlink.” The move is meant to increase connectivity for vehicles using Starlink for radio, communication, and online purposes. However, SpaceX is insistent that the continued expansion of the 5G internet rollout will not allow for Starlink to grow.

According to reporter Jackie Wattles of cnn.com, “SpaceX is claiming that, if federal regulators allow 5G wireless networks to use a certain band of spectrum, it can cause widespread outages for its Starlink internet customers.”

In order to avoid interference, multiple companies are not allowed to use the same spectrum, or radio frequency, within a given area. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) closely monitors the spectrum to ensure multiple providers do not compete within the same frequency. The spectrum at the center of the battle is the 12 GHz band, and without being able to service this area, Starlink will be unable to reach a massive number of potential clients.

Wattles goes on to write, “In a statement, SpaceX targeted Dish Network, which, though primarily known as a satellite TV company, also has a cellular network. SpaceX claims that Dish has attempted to ‘mislead’ the Federal Communications Commission, which allocates spectrum use across telecom companies, and put forward a ‘faulty analysis’ in an attempt to prove that allowing Dish to expand its 5G network would not impact Starlink users.”

Dish Network has kept their response minimal, only ensuring that their engineers were looking into Starlink’s concerns.

Additionally, Yaёl Bizouati-Kennedy of finance.yahoo.com states that Starlink is not only trying to bring connectivity to the average car, but also to vehicles like boats and planes, allowing for better, faster communication between employees, as well as entertainment for guests. While the FCC has greenlit this effort, 5G expansion still remains a major obstacle.

Bizouati-Kennedy says, “Dish is part of the 5gfor12GHz Coalition, a multilateral coalition of 5G leaders who have ‘joined together to work as swiftly as possible, across government agencies and between the public and private sectors, to ensure the U.S. does not fall behind on the 5G race because of outdated rules and regulations.’”

While Dish outpaces Starlink in terms of demand—Over eight million people subscribe to Dish as compared to less than half a million to Starlink—SpaceX’s pet project does seem to be promising to connect people and vehicles with never before seen speed and ease, sending faster connections between its relay satellites and the devices that they are paired with.

Capitol Tech offers many engineering opportunities, like the management of technology degree program, where students can learn the technology skills needed to develop faster internet and better systems to accommodate it in the future. 

To learn more about these programs, visit captechu.edu and check out the various courses and degrees offered. Many courses are available both on campus and online. For more information, contact admissions@captechu.edu, for Undergraduate, gradadmit@captechu.edu for Master's programs, and doctorate@captechu.edu for Doctoral programs.