U.K. Proposes Tighter Rules to Control Musk, OneWeb Satellites
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. has drawn up rules to prevent chaotic signal interference as entrepreneurs race to launch thousands of broadband-emitting spacecraft into orbit.
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and OneWeb Ltd. are rapidly launching satellites in an attempt to blanket Earth with high-speed internet, with others like Amazon.com Inc. close behind.
But British watchdog Ofcom warned Monday that it’s concerned these so-called satellite constellations will block each other’s signals.
Under new rules, satellite systems would be checked for whether they risk degrading other services, and if they could harm competition. Ofcom would publish details of licenses it expects to grant, which would require technical co-operation between companies, and give Ofcom the power to manage cases of interference in the U.K. Changes would be applied to its small number of existing licenses.
Ofcom’s consultation is due to conclude Sep. 20.
The new wave of low-orbit satellites are far closer to earth than those used today for remote internet and television, meaning light signals can travel much faster.
Musk’s SpaceX has already launched more than 1,500 Starlink satellites and the billionaire entrepreneur has said it’s on track for global coverage apart from polar regions by next month. It faces competition from OneWeb, owned by Bharti Global, the U.K. government, Eutelsat SA and SoftBank Group Corp., which has launched more than 250 satellites and plans to sell broadband to governments and businesses.
“We do not think we can solely rely on the International Telecommunication Union framework to effectively deal with all concerns impacting non-geostationary satellite orbit services provided in the U.K.,” Ofcom said, referring to a United Nations agency made up of the world’s telecommunications regulators.
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