The satellite broadband service Starlink, operated by SpaceX, appeared to have suffered a potential global outage. Reports started flowing last night about a degradation or no service at all. It appears that the service has been mostly restored as of today.
Starlink has been in the news quite a bit lately. It looks like the FCC avoided some ‘egg on its face’ with its recent decision to not award Starlink close to $1 billion in RDOF funding to support rural broadband deployments.
Can you imagine the blowback it would have received if instead of denying Starlink, it approved those RDOF funds, only to have a nationwide Starlink outage a week later?
To be fair, many ISPs have suffered large scale network outages in the past, and smaller providers experience a fiber cut or two every once in a while, impacting service. Starlink can’t be expected to have 100% coverage all the time.
But there is a bit of irony here, given the high profile nature of Starlink, thanks in large part to its founder Elon Musk.
In addition to its broadband service ambition, SpaceX just inked a deal with T-Mobile to provide wireless coverage for T-Mobile handsets, effectively removing “deadspots.” Well in theory anyway. That service will only initially focus on SMS/texting and voice, to begin with, with data coverage perhaps coming well into the future.
New SpaceX partner T-Mobile knows a thing or two about network outages. Back in 2020, a widescale T-Mobile outage drew the ire of then FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who called it unacceptable.
The FCC later put the blame squarely on T-Mobile, citing “a combination of equipment failure and misconfiguration of network routing.”
There’s been no official word from SpaceX regarding the Starlink outage.