These days, you can read in the news that SpaceX requested FCC for permission to change the orbit of the Starlink satellites already in orbit.

Now... from my understanding, the Starlink satellites fly over all the countries in the world more or less.

How it is that SpaceX just needs an OK from the US government? Aren't there other similar regulating entities across the world that, at least in theory, should be asked for the same permission?

[EDIT] I'm reading more on this topic. Here for instance https://www.geekwire.com/2019/spacex-wants-rearrange-starlink-satellites-faster-broadband-ramp/ you can read that SpaceX didn't ask for a permission to change the orbit but just the "spacing" between the satellites. However I don't get how you can increase the space between two satellites without changing at least temporary the orbit of at least one of the two.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about permission to fly over each country, or permission to transmit signals into each one? I think you're asking about the 2nd one, correct? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 24 '19 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ If the orbits are not included in the question, i will post this as an own. No two objects can occupy the same place at the same time or Kessler will take its toll ... $\endgroup$ – user34174 Dec 24 '19 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ well... it's complicated because it's not my field. I live in Europe, so it sounds strange to me that SpaceX asks for permission to change their satellite orbits to FCC only. What if <place here a country other than USA> is not happy with the new orbit? Maybe that country has a valuable satellite in that orbit. I remember for instance that some times ago they say that a SpaceX satellite and a scientific one were in route for a possible collision (even with very low changes of actually happening) $\endgroup$ – danidemi Dec 27 '19 at 14:52

Space politics is complicated - at a bare minimum you need approval from the regulatory body that has jurisdiction over the region that you plan to transmit/receive over. Depending on the launch location, you may need additional approval. Typically these requests are handled in tandem by the FCC and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and/or the international amateur radio union (IARU). The FCC released a streamlined process for small satellite approval this year: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-streamlines-application-process-small-satellites. From memory, it involves doing a debris report, defining your bands, data rates, usage windows, etc. You coordinate first with the IARU and then give the letter of coordination to the FCC for approval (this may have changed recently).

All that being said, I think that the "internet" part of the satellite internet lies in an unregulated frequency band. Just like you don't need a license to set up your router, you don't need one to set up a space router. What they are getting approval for is likely command and control telemetry, and maybe trying to lay out portions of this band to avoid interference - but they don't need approval for the WiFi aspect of the constellation. If anyone has more info about this please correct me.

They will likely only transit/receive command and control telemetry while over the US - so they are only seeking approval from the FCC.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be a risk to use an unregulated frequency band for the intenet part. There would be no reservation of the band and no protection against interference by other use of the band. What if the band gets regulated later and is reservered for other purposes? $\endgroup$ – Uwe Dec 25 '19 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need a license to set up your router, but you need a frequency band reserved for the use by routers. You don't need a license for your microwave oven, but routers and ovens should use different bands to minimize interference. No oven would be interfered by a router, but a router may be interfered by a much more powerful microwave oven. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Dec 25 '19 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe Yep! I think at least for these demo flight tests they might not be incredibly concerned. For the full-scale constellation, they will have a more permanent, government-regulated implementation. I think we are lacking information to describe how that may operate right now (unless you've got sources?) $\endgroup$ – mothman Dec 26 '19 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe The very reason 2.4GHz is unregulated is because most oven runs at that frequency as well. $\endgroup$ – user3528438 Dec 27 '19 at 21:11

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