TAMPA, Fla. — DirecTV said July 18 that its satellite TV customers would face major disruptions if broadcast rival Dish Network successfully rolls out 5G wireless services in the 12 GHz spectrum band.
Mobile operations in the band would “cause significant harmful interference” to millions of DirecTV receivers across the United States, the company told the Federal Communications Commission in a letter.
According to a study commissioned by DirecTV from satellite consultancy firm Savid, interference levels would exceed the limits currently in place in the United States to protect direct broadcast satellite (DBS) systems by a factor of 100 to 100. 000.
This would impact areas “extending far beyond the intended coverage area of mobile base stations,” wrote Stacy Fuller, DirecTV’s senior vice president of external affairs.
Fuller said the study is based on conservative assumptions that significantly underestimate interference levels because neither the FCC nor the band’s mobile proponents have established rules for the proposed two-way network.
Dish and RS Access, a spectrum holding company, have licenses in the band they want to upgrade for terrestrial 5G services.
Dish and DirecTV already use in-band frequencies to provide linear television programming.
OneWeb and SpaceX also use 12 GHz frequencies to connect their competing non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) broadband satellite constellations to user terminals. OneWeb and SpaceX recently commissioned studies showing that proposed 5G services would significantly disrupt their networks.
Fuller said DirecTV’s broadcast services are even more vulnerable to disruptions from interference because DBS is a one-way service.
“Unlike broadband systems, which can replace lost [data] packets through two-way communications, DBS packets lost due to interference lead to frozen video screens and canceled subscriptions,” she added.
“As a result, the Commission should terminate this proceeding and provide incumbent satellite operators in the band the certainty they need to continue investing in the development and delivery of advanced services to US consumers.”
Both DirecTV and Dish lost customers in a declining satellite pay-TV market that lost online streaming alternatives.
DirecTV is majority-owned by US telecommunications giant AT&T and has expanded its streaming services in response to changing viewing habits.
Along with expanding its own streaming capabilities, Dish has developed a land mobile network that uses other spectrum bands for 5G.
Round trip studies
Dish, RS Access and other members of the 5G coalition for 12 GHz say mobile services can co-exist with other users in the band.
Studies for RS Access by RKF Engineering Solutions, an engineering company, focused on the potential for interference with NGSO operators.
SpaceX said the analysis it submitted to FCC addresses on June 21 inaccuracies and incorrect assumptions that have been made in previous RFK interference studies.
The proposed network would cause harmful interference to Starlink users more than 77% of the time, SpaceX warned.
OneWeb followed up with its own study on July 12, which announced that it would be leaving significant areas of the United States unusable by the otherwise ubiquitous NGSO terminals.
However, according to RFK’s analysis using Starlink as a model, 5G deployments will have no effect on at least 99.85% of NGSO operations in the 12 GHz band.
RS Access filed another RFK analysis with the FCC on July 15 to identify the factors behind the disparity between it and the SpaceX study.
The disparities stem from issues that include the “[e]SpaceX’s “unusually narrow” geographic scope, said RS Access CEO Noah Campbell, made untenable assumptions about how Starlink terminals would be distributed and how 5G base stations would be deployed.