Elon Musk’s Starlink project submitted in France to a public consultation by Arcep

This service allows people in underserved areas to access the Internet via thousands of small satellites.

Arcep, the French telecoms regulator, announced on Friday the opening of a public consultation on the use of hertzian frequencies by the Starlink satellite internet access service launched by billionaire Elon Musk, following a decision of the Council of State. At the end of a 30-day period, Arcep will publish “as soon as possible” the contributions it will have received from the actors concerned, and will make a new decision, it indicated in a press release.

Seized by the environmental associations Priartem and Agir pour l’environnement, the Council of State on Tuesday canceled Arcep’s decision, taken on February 9, 2021, to grant two frequency bands to Starlink to connect its satellites to its users. French finals. The administrative court criticized Arcep for not having proceeded “to a public consultation” before granting this green light, even though this decision was “likely to have a significant impact on the market for the provision of high-speed Internet access, and to affect users“.

Arcep had a contrary analysis, considering that “the frequency band considered allowed cohabitation of multiple satellite players, thus not leading to a frequency scarcity phenomenon“, according to its press release. “In addition, there already existed, on the day of the authorization, other very high-speed Internet access offers via satellite, whose users represent a few tens of thousands out of the more than 17 million subscribers to very high speed in Franceadded the regulator.

More than 100,000 subscribers worldwide

For the moment, the Starlink service still works in France, AFP was able to verify with users. Officially opened in May 2021, it is operated by SpaceX, the space company of billionaire Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, who did not respond to requests from AFP. The service allows residents of areas poorly served by the fixed and mobile networks of telecom operators to have access to high-speed Internet, via thousands of small satellites circulating in low orbit (mainly 550 kilometers) around the Earth. It requires specific equipment sold around 600 euros and a subscription of nearly 100 euros per month.

In January, Arcep had also revoked, at the request of Starlink, the authorizations to use frequencies for two of the three terrestrial stations that the company planned to use in France, disputed locally. The Starlink service currently has more than 100,000 subscribers worldwide, according to public statements by Starlink officials.

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