FAIL: Globalstar’s WiMAX Play



“The importance of mobile satellite spectrum is demonstrated time and time again and cannot be overstated. This spectrum is used for the provision of satellite telecommunications services that make it possible for first responders, UN relief agencies, and military to provide the critical services of rescuing survivors and coordinating housing, food and medical care quickly in the aftermath of hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters.

Iridium supports the Federal Communications Commission’s recognition of this. With its decision today, the Commission has taken an important step to preserve and protect this vital resource for its intended and most important uses.”

That’s the "statement" from Iridium regarding the FCC’s decision to deny competitor Globalstar

It sure sounded like a good idea. Now Open Range is screwed. Excellent report in Fierce Broadband Wireless

Indeed, the FCC has always been careful about requiring the MSS industry to roll out satellite services in addition to terrestrial services. It wanted to see a successful MSS industry and agreed with MSS players early on that adding a terrestrial component would result in better device form factors and greater penetration in buildings, a drawback to today’s satellite services.

It appears Globalstar was banking on the fact that rural broadband is an initiative near and dear to the heart of Genachowski and the commissioners and hoped that would prompt the FCC to rule in its favor. Open Range had the spectrum and the funding to make rural broadband a reality across some 500 rural communities. "Globalstar maintains that these public interest factors are more compelling now, as denial of the requested extensions would force Open Range to discontinue wireless broadband service to rural customers who are currently receiving it," the FCC said in its ruling.

The FCC’s ruling was the right one, but the consequences will be hitting a company that had one of the best chances to fulfill the FCC’s goal of bringing broadband to underserved areas. There a number of parties hurt by Globalstar’s lack of follow through. For instance, Alvarion and WiChorus, now part of Tellabs, have contracts with Open Range.

I don’t know where Open Range will find new spectrum in 60 days. Even if it does, customers will face disruption because of incompatible devices. Moreover, I think it’s highly unlikely Globalstar will ever come into compliance now. Open Range can’t wait around.

Hey, if they’re using satcom for backhaul to WiMAX towers, let’s see if one of the GEO operators steps in.