Friday, September 22, 2023


SpaceX and Starlink RV hit with competitor regulatory and legal actions

An array of legal and federal regulatory disputes between Starlink and its competitors, Viasat and DISH Network Corporation, have attempted to thwart the expansion of the Starlink satellite constellation and certain Starlink functionality.

In an action by Viasat stemming from last May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on July 20 that Viasat, which operates broadband satellites in geostationary orbit, “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.” The case is on appeal. Viasat had petitioned the court for a stay to halt the launch of additional Starlink satellites.

On the regulatory front, DISH Network Corporation urged the Federal Communications Commission to compel Starlink to “deactivate” the accounts of subscribers who used the Starlink service while in motion aboard boats, RVs, and other vehicles. DISH is concerned that the roving Starlink use will interfere with its own satellite television system. It asked the FCC to compel SpaceX to show whether it has ever deactivated a customer account for using Starlink while underway. “Specifically, SpaceX should be ordered to disclose whether and how it can identify operations in motion on its system; demonstrably deactivate accounts that use its antennas when in motion,” wrote DISH in its letter to the FCC. The DISH TV provider questioned whether SpaceX had terminated any subscriber accounts for violating the Starlink customer service agreement. “If SpaceX announces that it will deactivate earth station in motion (ESIM) operations and in fact does so, this will go a long way towards addressing DISH’s concerns.”

Starlink activated roaming in April without preamble. Starlink RV users also discovered that their broadband service would work while rolling down the road and have ubiquitously posted about it over social media. While the Starlink RV website clearly states that internet access while underway is prohibited, neither SpaceX nor Starlink issued any statement regarding using the system on moving vehicles in response to the widespread posting about the practice.

SpaceX has called the DISH FCC action a “time-wasting publicity stunt” and has urged the FCC to approve its application to facilitate operations on moving vehicles swiftly.

The FCC has not responded to the DISH Network Corporation letter.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been holding up SpaceX plans to begin launching its Starship Super Heavy rockets from its Boca Chica Launch Site in Cameron County, Texas. The administration finally issued its findings and order on June 13. Among a total of 75 stipulations imposed by the order, SpaceX will be required to hire a biologist to monitor the environment within a radius of three miles around the launch site, donate $5,000 per year to both an ocelot refuge and a peregrine falcon fund, and must operate a shuttle service from the facility’s parking lot, all before proceeding with any Starship Super Heavy launches.

Undaunted, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk immediately issued a tweet suggesting he was pleased with the development. “Starship will be ready to fly next month,” Musk tweeted on Tuesday, June 14. “I was in the high bay & mega bay late last night reviewing progress.”

Musk added that SpaceX “will have a second Starship stack ready to fly in August” and then will launch flights monthly from then on.

Stay tuned.

More recent Starlink news:


Randall Brink
Randall Brink
Randall Brink is an author hailing from Idaho. He has written many fiction and non-fiction books, including the critically acclaimed Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart. He is the screenwriter for the new Grizzly Adams television series and the feature film Goldfield. Randall Brink has a diverse background not only as a book author, Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor, but also as an airline captain, chief executive, and Alaska bush pilot.


  1. Looks like evidence that Starlink is a “disruptive” technology; desperate attempts by competitors to stop it. A simple free space loss power calculation shows a signal from the ground is -30dB down at geosynchronous orbit altitude vs starlink 800 mile (max), not to mention the wimpy power a customer terminal has compared to a Dish network uplink. One would assume starlink satellite to customer antennas are always pointed at the earth so should not illuminate dish satellites. I have no idea what the starlink to starlink transmissions are but should be sporadic in time due to geometry, reduced in power, and would tend to be rejected by a dish receiver with beam pointing down. I assume all this can be quickly dismissed with testimony of a knowledgable RF engineer. But people being people, 1) Dish can pay their own unscrupulous “expert”, and 2) Convincing non-technical, innumerate Judges or juries is a hurdle. I assume FCC-required interference studies have already been done. Have they?

    • Many interference studies have been done and regulations put in place. For instance the reason that Starlink dishes are angled rather than laying flat is to avoid potential interference with geostationary satellites. (They work just fine laying flat)

  2. Seemingly harassing or not, other carriers have a legitimate right to ensure Starlink ESIM customers are not illuminating their satellites in violation of FCC Rules. On the other hand, SpaceX software engineers should be able to demonstrate Starlink ESIM customer software is programmed to turn the Dishy transmitter when it has not acquired a Starlink LEO satellite… meaning if the ESIM is not pointing in a northern direction to the Starlink constellation of satellites, the end-user Dishy terminal has its transmitter turned off (in software). FYI – Dish and other traditional geostationary/synchronous satellites require North America user antennas to be pointed SOUTH, since their satellites hover over the equator.

    Of course the devil is in the details and if an ESIM antenna is moving in a vehicle and carriers question, “How Long” does it take for the ESIM transmitter to turn off its power?

  3. I love the idea of StarLink, and it has obviously created imitators (Amazon among them). And, yes, legacy providers are pushing the bounds of sensibility to maintain their subscriber base, they too will need to innovate in an ever increasingly connected world.

    Musk, well… his increasingly erratic behavior shows that genius and opportunity can have a dark side. He is the JD Rockefeller of our time, with a better PR machine, and like Rockefeller, the more regulation he faces, the more walls he faces, the louder and seemingly erratic his reaction becomes.

    Personally, I agree with most folks that the role of the Federal Government is to ensure that the People are served best, and that they are treated fairly. It also has to ensure our resources are managed wisely – looking at the long term instead of just the next quarters Wall Street results. Wildlife refuges are mans answer to natural, wide-open spaces. They help, but they are not an adequate answer.

  4. I wonder what stipulations NASA and who ever launched the DISH satellites had to fulfill before launch. This legal action is the same as an admission by DISH that they can’t compete with StarLink.

  5. Geostationary Internet is a joke. round trip packet latency is on the order of 500 mS (speed of light for the two round trips to geostationary), which is completely unacceptable for anything more involved than email, and they have to use a bunch of cheater techniques to make light web browsing barely work. the uplink speeds are atrociously slow. a VPN for tasks such as telecommuting flat out will never work.

    So if you can’t fight them with your obsolete technology, then bury them in Lawyers. It is the New American Way.

  6. Yes, by all means, put those ocelots on their own reservation. That always works.

    What utter nonsense. Now my sh#t list has a new entry: Dish Network.

    I propose a new Federal agency: the Innovation Thwartation Administration. California will surely follow suit.

  7. When I read something like 75 stipulations, I would love to see them listed. I’m sure public would find many hard to associate to the proposal at hand. It would be yet another classic example of government overreach.

  8. Donating $5,000 per year to both an ocelot refuge and a peregrine falcon fund, and must operate a shuttle service from the facility’s parking lot sounds like an overreach of FAA’s power and collusion. Our government has a habit of charging for services that should be paid by those with the interest.

    • Exactly what I thought when I read that. Fortunately, for Elon, the annual cost of all that to him is relative to most of us dropping a penny on the ground and not picking it up! 🙂

      I wonder which of the “rules creators” runs the ocelot & peregrine falcon organizations???

  9. Practically it sounds like a real pain and philosophically I’m opposed because of being forced by the tyrannical governmental policies. I guess reducing pollution is a good thing however this impending dome of planet earth is bogus.


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