SpaceX's Newest FCC Filing Reveals Plans To 'Enhance' Starlink Broadband With A 'Slightly Smaller Antenna'

SpaceX's Newest FCC Filing Reveals Plans To 'Enhance' Starlink Broadband With A 'Slightly Smaller Antenna'

SpaceX submitted a new filing on June 8, asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant a ‘blanket license’ for the operation of a ‘next-generation’ Starlink dish to ‘enhance’ the Starlink broadband service with a ‘slightly smaller antenna’, which is designed for commercial use. The current phased-array dish has a diameter of 23-inches, which is around the size of a large pizza. The Commission authorized SpaceX the operation of up to 1 million of these end-user customer antennas, also known as ‘earth stations.’ “Since securing that authorization, SpaceX has developed the next generation of its user terminal,” the company wrote in the FCC filing – “Like its predecessor, these new units employ advanced phased-array beam-forming and digital processing technologies to make highly efficient use of Ku-band spectrum resources by supporting highly directive, antenna beams that point and track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites. However, they do so with a slightly smaller antenna than previously used,” SpaceX stated. Application first-found by PCMag.

In the newest application, SpaceX seeks another blanket license for the operation of the much smaller next-generation phased-array antenna units “for deployment and operation from fixed locations throughout the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” One of the upgrades in the smaller dish antenna is that it will be capable of conserving more power when receiving signal from the Starlink satellites as they orbit Earth. “As the terminal steers the transmitting beam, it automatically changes the power to maintain a constant level at the receiving antenna of its target satellite to the extent possible, compensating for variations in antenna gain and path loss associated with the steering angle,” the company explains. The antenna that is currently in operation uses 4.06 watts, the smaller antenna will utilize less power at 2.44 watts.

This new application comes after SpaceX requested the FCC to grant an experimental license to test a square-shaped Starlink antenna that measures 12.2 by 12.2 inches, to connect to the Starlink broadband constellation. It is unclear whether the development of this square-shaped terminal is for commercial civilian use, nor if it is related to the smaller upgraded antenna. Read more in the TESMANIAN article linked below. 

SpaceX plans to launch over 4,400 Starlink satellites for global internet coverage. To date, it has launched 1,737 satellites and already provides beta internet service to portions of the United States and abroad. SpaceX told the FCC this week that its Starlink broadband “system is now on the brink of delivering this service across the entire United States, including to the most remote corners and Polar Regions of the country that too often get left behind.” The company is accepting service pre-orders via “The demand for more broadband is surging and the need for connections has never been more important. Granting this application would serve the public interest by authorizing a new generation of the ground-based component for SpaceX’s satellite system that will enhance the broadband services available to customers throughout the United States,” SpaceX told the Commission.



Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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