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Starlink Seeks LEO Satellite Spectrum Boost from Vodafone UK

Monday, October 25th, 2021 (9:06 am) - Score 2,088
Starlink-Satellite

SpaceX’s Starlink service, which delivers ultrafast low latency broadband across the world via a mega constellation of satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), is reportedly one of several operators that may be “ close to striking a deal” to secure some of Vodafone UK’s radio spectrum to help boost their network capacity.

Starlink has already launched around 1,800 LEOs into space (over 1,600 are active) and their initial plan is to deploy a total of 4,425 by 2024. At present, beta customers in the UK typically pay a hefty £89 a month for the service, plus £54 for shipping and £439 ($499) for the kit (dish, router etc.). But for that you can expect unlimited usage, fast latency times of 20-40ms, downloads of c. 50-150Mbps and uploads of c.20Mbps (such figures should improve as the network grows).

NOTE: Starlink’s compact satellites weigh about 260Kg each and orbit the Earth at an altitude of between 540 and 570 kilometres.

The final commercial launch of Starlink is expected anytime now, but meanwhile it’s been reported (Telegraph) that they may be “close” to licensing some radio spectrum from Vodafone UK in order to boost their network links and capacity (this could result in improved performance for customers). A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “Regarding satellite spectrum … we are in talks with multiple operators. We’re close to striking a deal.

Vodafone has previously informed Ofcom that they were open to such talks with satellite operators, with the focus being on their holdings in the 28GHz band. Interestingly, the 28GHz band had previously been indicated as one that could be used for multi-gigabit speed UK mmW (millimeter wave) based 5G mobile or fixed wireless broadband services, but the limited coverage and high cost of deployment in that band has stunted progress.

The regulator likes to see spectrum holdings being properly utilised, so this may be one way for Vodafone to make some money off it, while still retaining control. At present, it’s unclear whether Starlink are after all of their holdings in the band or only part of it. Nevertheless, SpaceX are constantly on the hunt for more spectrum and ground stations to help improve their network coverage and performance.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    If this goes ahead surely it’ll negatively impact Vodafones own “pretend NSA” 5g customers?

    1. Yatta! says:

      No, as Vodafone aren’t using their 28GHz band holdings.

  2. Martin Winlow says:

    Crikey! The tin-foil-hat wearers will be having apoplexy! 5G signals raining down on their heads anywhere they go on the planet!

    1. Igor says:

      Most of the 5G loons are flat Earth fruitcakes too, they’ll just write off Starlink as ‘demonic disinformation’.

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