70K Starlink messages flood FCC against Dish’s 12 GHz 5G plan

More than 70,000 messages have flooded the FCC’s public comment system with the missive to protect the Starlink satellite system from a plan by Dish Network to use the 12 GHz band for 5G.

As PCMag first reported, SpaceX started recruiting its fans to sign a petition a week ago, and they responded in droves. The online petition, hosted on votervoice.net, is designed to send a pre-written message to the FCC and U.S. lawmakers about putting an end to Dish’s proposal to use the 12 GHz band for terrestrial 5G.

Dish did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

The pre-written messages to the FCC are phrased such that they are coming from Starlink internet users who have “come to rely” on the service. “The FCC should be focused on expanding connectivity to Americans, especially those without service or with poor service,” it reads in part. “It should not be focused on changing the rules to satisfy speculative and poorly-defined technologies and individuals who have no clear plans to help close the digital divide.”

It's not immediately clear how much gaming of the system is going on here, but it’s ironic given SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s complaint in recent months that Twitter was undercounting the number of spam bots on its site.  

PCMag said it’s unclear how many of the entries in the FCC’s comment system are coming from duplicate users. In some cases, Starlink users added custom messages to the top of the script.   

SpaceX insists that it needs the 12 GHz band for Starlink while opponents have suggested it has access to plenty of other spectrum in other bands. The 5G for 12 GHz Coalition, whose members include Dish and RS Access, told the FCC last year that it’s imperative the FCC open up the 500 megahertz of contiguous spectrum in the 12 GHz band for 5G, for both licensed and unlicensed services.

Last week, the FCC’s International Bureau announced that it had approved SpaceX’s request to allow Earth Stations In Motion (ESIMs) for moving vehicles, boats and aircraft. That was viewed by some as a step in SpaceX’s favor overall, but RS Access CEO V. Noah Campbell told Fierce on Friday that the FCC’s statements clearly did not spell doom for the 12 GHz proceeding where it’s considering using the band for 5G.

The agency did say its grants are subject to a number of conditions, some of which are related to the ongoing 12 GHz rulemaking proceeding, leaving open broader questions around the use of the 12 GHz band.