The Sunday Telegraph - Business & Money

Musk says Oneweb is trying to slow satellite launches

- By James Titcomb

ELON MUSK’S space company has accused its taxpayer-backed rival Oneweb of seeking to slow down the launch of satellite internet services designed to fix broadband blackspots.

Spacex has told Ofcom that the regulator’s proposals to force co-operation between competing space companies could cause unnecessar­y delays to its Starlink service and hold up the rollout of fast internet to isolated rural households.

Mr Musk, the world’s richest person, is in a global race against Oneweb and Amazon as the three companies vie to launch satellite constellat­ions that will blanket the earth with high-speed connection­s. Rivals have accused the Tesla billionair­e of a disregard for rules and claim he is attempting to bypass regulatory checks.

Oneweb, which was rescued by the Government with $500m (£363m) of taxpayer funds last year, has pushed for Ofcom to force Spacex to come to the negotiatin­g table amid fears its constel- lation of thousands of satellites would interfere with Oneweb’s own service.

Bosses at Oneweb claim that it should be given priority because it secured a licence with internatio­nal regulators before Mr Musk’s venture.

Earlier this year, Ofcom outlined proposals to require operators to co-operate and the regulator has said it could intervene if they are unable to.

Responding to a consultati­on on the plans, Spacex dismissed concerns about a spectrum bottleneck and suggested that Ofcom’s proposals could limit innovation.

Without naming Oneweb, it said that the company’s demand that it be given priority would hurt competitio­n and prevent households from using Starlink’s services. It said: “Ofcom should … ensure any new process both prevents operators from attempting to abuse the regulatory process, and does not impede or otherwise slow down broadband service roll-out to consumers.”

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