back to article Starlink clashes with Telecom Italia over frequency data sharing

Starlink is reportedly facing obstructions to its expansion in the Mediterranean from Telecom Italia, which it claims is refusing to share data that would help to avoid interference between the two operators. The satellite broadband operator has filed a complaint with Italy's telecoms regulator regarding Telecom Italia, one of …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    "it may shift investment from Italy to other European countries if the situation is not resolved"

    The most investment Starlink make in a country is add the country drop-down box to their website, set up a tiny shoebox company used to collect payments from customers, and pay the bare minimum in taxes. There aren't even any customer service jobs because Starlink doesn't have any customer service.

    1. xyz Silver badge

      "it may shift investment from Italy to other European countries if the situation is not resolved"

      Yeah but you're forgetting the fact that the Starlink ground station connects to a contractually agreed list of local ISPs who provide the internety stuff to the Starlink customers in that country.

      If Starlink can provide me over 300mbps for 45€ a month and is obviously paying the local ISPs a wedge, Starlink doesn't have to be any bigger.

      As for customer service, the whole thing is pretty much thought out. I've been using it for over 18 months and it only went phut once in a heavy snow storm.

      As someone else on here said, Starlink is just a space router putting an off grid wallah like me on line. So what's the problem?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: "it may shift investment from Italy to other European countries if the situation is not resolved

        And it also has to comply with the spectrum rules of whichever country it wants to provide the services in. Compliance is something Musk and his ilk has never been keen on.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        it may shift investment from Italy to other European countries if the situation is not resolved

        "yeah but you're forgetting the fact that the Starlink ground station connects to a contractually agreed list of local ISPs who provide the internety stuff to the Starlink customers in that country."

        Starlink has to connect its ground station to a backbone provider not a raft of local ISP's. All Starlink provides is a wireless connection to the internet, but they aren't a backbone provider themselves and that ground station is a single point of failure if they don't also build in any redundancy.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: "it may shift investment from Italy

      Indeed, what investment?

      Selling the service and exporting the profits (like a fast food franchise) is not a local investment. Fibre and mobile/Cell towers are real investments.

      Or are they going to install Earth Stations, data centres and support staff in Italy?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "it may shift investment from Italy

        "Or are they going to install Earth Stations, data centres and support staff in Italy?"

        They'll need a ground station within line of sight of the sats and regulations might require that it's in country so the Italian government can "do something about it" if a situation arises. It's not a big physical presence. It could be run through a wholly owned subsidiary that collects subscription payments and, for internal accounting purposes, the sub is billed for the service provided by the holding company based in a low tax country. The net "profit" will be minimal if taxes aren't exceptionally low and few jobs will be created.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "it may shift investment from Italy

        Not only are mobile/cell towers real there will be a lot of people paying money in Italy for that service.

        Will Starlink be billing Italian customers in Italy for Starlink service? They won't have to, they could choose one country in the EU to operate from and everything will go there. All the revenue might go to Ireland like it does for Apple, Google, et al already. So why should Italy not favor their biggest national telco over some foreign competitor who will barely spend a penny there?

    3. mathew42
      WTF?

      Ground stations optional

      Ground stations with direct line of site to satellites are not require because as described in "SpaceX adds laser links to Starlink satellites to serve Earth’s polar areas" (27-Jan-2021) https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/01/spacex-adds-laser-links-to-starlink-satellites-to-serve-earths-polar-areas/ signals some of the satellites contain laser links.

      Quoting from the article:

      "The speed of light is faster in vacuum than in fiber, so the space lasers have exciting potential for low latency links," the Starlink team said on Reddit in response to a question about the space-laser testing. "They will also allow us to serve users where the satellites can't see a terrestrial gateway antenna—for example, over the ocean and in regions badly connected by fiber."

      There is speculation that high frequency traders may seek to leverage the faster than fibre StarLink laser connections for arbitrage between different markets.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the 90s I worked for a consortium of Italian companies who were developing some comms kit for the Italian government. There was a similar product already in production from a UK company which was did the job but worked on a slightly different frequency. I met one of their engineers just after he'd had a meeting with our customer so they were obviously trying to compete. No problem - the MD of one of our companies had a couple of meetings in Rome and, whaddya know, the frequency that they used had a restriction placed on it due to "national security" which meant that the UK product couldn't be used. They could have easily tweaked their design, but I think they knew what they were up against and realised that it wouldn't have helped.

  3. hoofie2002

    National Governments have form for screwing around when it comes to Frequencies.

    A few years ago Thales tried to muscle their way into the 2m band for drone communication use which is heavily used by Radio Amateurs for VHF Communication, satellites and lots of other uses. The French Government needless to say backed them to the hilt and tried to get the ITU to roll over and give them access to it which would have severely buggered amateur use.

    In this case the ITU told them to do one and go away thanks to Amateurs getting themselves organised and fighting back.

    I do suspect thought as usual Starlink don't give tuppence for national or regional frequency allocations and are trying their luck.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      You're right – France has additional regulations for wifi and Bluetooth – but the alternative of entirely unlicensed spectrum would be worse. We live close enough to an airport to be subject to DFS restrictions on channels in the 5GHz, which give radar priority. A real pain especially if you have devices that don't take the hint and won't reconnect if they get dropped (Apple), but I guess I'm happier knowing that radar is working.

      Starlink and a lot of services like it are essentially a put on taking control of as yet unlicensed resources such as spectrum and LEO slots.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: don't give tuppence for national or regional frequency allocations

      Then why are they apparently getting upset that other providers won't tell them what frequencies to stay away from?

  4. David Pearce

    The 1900/1910 MHz block is reserved for railway communications in Malaysia (and other countries I believe) - a safety critical usage, so interference from satellites would be a serious issue.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Musk might agree: "a serious annoyance for me! Who cares about the saps sitting in trains?"

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