Globalstar, which has been lobbying the FCC for the ability to use terrestrial low power service (TLPS), got a boost in the form of a letter in support of its proposal from a partner of Ignition Partners, an early stage venture capital firm whose founders include cellular industry pioneer Steve Hooper.
"New entrants into any competitive sector of the communications industry are typically vital to the pace of development while slower moving incumbents attempt to limit available offerings and prevent anything truly innovative or disruptive like TLPS," wrote Adrian Smith, partner at Ignition Partners, in a filing with the FCC.
"We see the same thing happening by incumbents attempting to 'commoditize' unlicensed offerings," he said. "In a world of limited spectrum supply, operators on existing useable bands will likely only provide increased resistance to efforts to free up spectrum for its higher and best use. With TLPS, situated at the edge of a critical band in 2.4 GHz which has been the backbone of the nation's and the world's wireless operations, we can benefit from an operator actively pushing to use its spectrum more intensively for terrestrial broadband. This is exactly the type of policy the commission should be setting."
Smith mentions that he spent much of his career focused on identifying and helping build businesses in the communications space with emerging and disruptive technologies. His background includes positions at British Telecom Research Laboratories, Nextlink, AT&T Wireless and McCaw Cellular Communication. The Seattle area-based Ignition Partners' founders include Hooper, who worked closely with Craig McCaw for 18 years and Hooper was CEO of every major McCaw Company except Nextel.
While Globalstar's long-term investors have expressed support for its TLPS proposal and want the commission to move forward with its proceeding, short-sellers and other groups--namely those representing the broader Wi-Fi community and Bluetooth--have urged the commission not to authorize TLPS in the 2473-2495 MHz band. Opponents say that results of demonstrations done at the FCC's own facilities failed to provide conclusive information. Globalstar has argued that the tests show TLPS can be a good neighbor to existing spectrum users.
One of Globalstar's opponents, Gerst Capital recently filed a lengthy set of comments saying TLPS has undergone basic "customer-level" demonstrations but has yet to go through anything approaching engineering "system testing" of the type conducted by wireless system manufacturers around the world.
"As a former engineer and manager of wireless communication system development & test organizations, I understand the difference between a product 'demonstration' and system-level product 'test,'" Greg Gerst of Gerst Capital said in the filing.
He said he approached Ixia, a provider of network systems test equipment, with a proposal to conduct preliminary engineering testing to assess one key technical risk regarding Globalstar's TLPS proposal: the impact of Channel 14/TLPS on Wi-Fi Channel 11.
On April 28 and 29, Gerst said, he spent about 12 hours with Ixia personnel in Portland, Ore., conducting controlled "system-level" testing to begin quantifying the impact of TLPS on Channel 11. He is recommending others use Ixia test equipment with TLPS-enabled clients and Bluetooth devices to do comprehensive testing, which he says could be accomplished within a matter of weeks.
In a previous filing, Gerst presented analysis to show that a high selectivity bandpass filter included in the commercial access point product was removed from hardware used in Globalstar's TLPS demonstrations. This bandpass filter is commonly referred to as a coexistence filter. Such filters in access points use the same technology and have similar specifications to those used in LTE-enabled client devices.
To his knowledge, it has not been possible for anyone other than Globalstar to obtain client devices capable of operating on Wi-Fi Channel 14. If manufacturers were made aware of the FCC's interest in this area, it would likely make it easier for interested parties to obtain client devices for controlled testing, he suggests.
Globalstar's general counsel and VP of regulatory affairs, Barbee Ponder IV, told FierceWirelessTech that the company has demonstrated that TLPS is compatible with other unlicensed services and provides an immediate solution to existing Wi-Fi congestion. "The commission should adopt its proposed rules to make these benefits available to consumers now," he said.
In another twist in the long and winding road for Globalstar, iPass submitted a filing to the FCC in support of its TLPS proposal. iPass uses a global network of Wi-Fi hotspots to offer mobile broadband service to U.S. consumers and international travelers. Its business mission is to knit together the world's commercial Wi-Fi systems to create a single global Wi-Fi network.
The company says the FCC's proposed rules for TLPS will provide enormous benefits to iPass' network and its customers by adding channel capacity. Increased congestion in the 2.4 GHz band has generally reduced the quality of service at Wi-Fi hotspots, particularly in cities and densely populated areas, the company said. By adding to the U.S. spectrum inventory, TLPS would provide a better experience. Plus, it can be implemented quickly by enterprises and carriers.
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