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FCC Proposes Framework for Direct Satellite Access to Cell Phones - Setting the stage for ‘Single Network’ Connectivity

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed rules and guidelines to enable satellite companies like SpaceX, T-Mobile, AST Spacemobile, and Lynk to offer satellite services directly to cell phones. The FCC is hoping for a “single network future,” where devices will bounce between using signals from cell towers and satellites without the user noticing, and is seeking comments on how systems like 911 and emergency alerts function when someone’s connected to a satellite. The FCC is also considering extending the framework to other bands, locations, and applications that might be supported by such collaborations.

The FCC’s notice is focused on companies that are using parts of the spectrum traditionally reserved for standards like 5G, allowing phones to talk to satellites without the need for any additional hardware. The commission is trying to create a “clear and transparent processes” for the regulator to support their efforts. Last month, Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel spoke at a dinner for the Satellite Industry Association and discussed the potential of satellite-to-phone technology, noting that it demonstrates how bringing satellite and terrestrial wireless capabilities together can accomplish what neither network can do on its own.

The FCC has granted experimental licenses to companies like AST Spacemobile and Lynk, who have been testing their satellite-to-phone systems, as well as approvals to deploy their satellites, but has yet to make specific rules for how companies can use carriers’ spectrum. The notice of proposed rulemaking passed unanimously by the commissioners, and all of them released statements regarding the proposal. While there are still a lot of open questions, it looks like the FCC is making progress in the satellite-to-phone communication space.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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