Bluetooth SIG, others dispute Globalstar's TLPS test results

Last week, Globalstar trumpeted the successful tests it completed during demonstrations at the FCC showing no interference between terrestrial low power services (TLPS), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

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One of the devices used in Bluetooth demonstrations at the FCC's Technology Experience Center. (Image source: Globalstar)

But the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is having none of it, saying its own demonstrations at the FCC actually provided illustrations of interference with Bluetooth hearing aids and Bluetooth Smart Lighting.

Bluetooth SIG said the demonstrations showed that the packet loss experienced by Bluetooth hearing aids jumped from 10 percent to almost 20 percent with TLPS present. In another Smart Lighting demo by Bluetooth SIG, the number of instances where Smart lights failed to receive commands increased four times with TLPS present.

The two demonstration scenarios conducted at the FCC's Technology Experience Center illustrated the interference cases despite a short notice of the demonstrations, insufficient testing time, a small and crowded test facility and limited understanding of the TLPS setup, the Bluetooth SIG said in its filing with the FCC.

Globalstar "makes a lot of claims their service doesn't interfere" with the services in the ISM band, and "we dispute that. We've disputed that for a long time," said Bluetooth SIG Executive Director Mark Powell in an interview with FierceWirelessTech.

Powell said there are rules for the ISM band, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi both use guard bands to provide protections against interference. Globalstar wants to change the use of its spectrum from satellite to terrestrial and is seeking rule changes in the ISM band so that it can spill into another band, he said.

Changing the rules is "a very dangerous precedent," as governments around the world use careful planning and guard bands to mitigate interference. He also said it's bad practice to allow one company to bend the rules while everybody else has to play by the rules.

Bluetooth Smart is one of the technologies expected to play a big role in the Internet of Things, with smart lighting, door locks, window sensors, beacons and a lot of other products coming to market.

Others also released comments challenging Globalstar's contention that TLPS won't interfere. NCTA issued this statement: "We find it hard to believe the FCC would draw any conclusions from a non-scientific demo rather than real testing--especially when the FCC has indicated that it would do further testing."

The Bluetooth SIG plans to file a more detailed report of its findings from the tests into the FCC's record by this Friday. The NCTA is expected to file its analysis with the commission by April 17. 

In its ex parte notice with the FCC, the Wi-Fi Alliance noted that Greg Ennis, the Wi-Fi Alliance's vice president of technology, observed Globalstar set up its TLPS demonstration system at the test facility on March 4. Two days later, the alliance's counsel attended the initial demonstration of TLPS and the operation of Bluetooth devices in the presence of TLPS.

The Wi-Fi Alliance "does not expect to submit an independent report of its observation of the TLPS demonstration," the filing said. "It anticipates cooperating with other parties that participated in the demonstrations and that are expected to submit reports."

For its part, Globalstar said the demonstrations conducted by Bluetooth SIG had serious flaws and said the SIG's preliminary characterization of its results should be accorded "no weight" in the FCC's proceeding. The company also noted that whereas Globalstar provided all of its data to other demonstration participants, the Bluetooth SIG did not provide the data from its demonstration to Globalstar. The company urged the commission to move expeditiously to adopt its proposed rules to add 22 MHz to the nation's spectrum inventory and ease congestion for Wi-Fi services.

Barbee Ponder, Globalstar's general counsel and vice president of regulatory affairs, told FierceWirelessTech that Globalstar remains optimistic the FCC will grant its request. "We think we can provide tremendous consumer benefits" by offering a premium mobile broadband experience with devices consumers currently have in their hands, he said. "This is unlike any other opportunity the FCC has… We feel quite confident that any remaining questions they had are answered."

For more:
- see this Bluetooth SIG FCC filing and this Bluetooth SIG blog
- see this Globalstar filing
- see this NCTA filing
- see this Wi-Fi Alliance filing

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