Globalstar gets OK for experimental tests using TLPS

The FCC gave Globalstar the green light to conduct experimental tests in San Carlos, Calif., using terrestrial low power service (TLPS), provided certain conditions are met.

In response to a query by FierceWirelessTech, Globalstar referred questions about the experimental permit to the license filing. But it also released this statement about the filing:

"Globalstar is working with numerous partners to examine the performance of TLPS in a range of indoor and outdoor environments," the company said. "We have a growing team of participating partners including service, hardware and equipment providers, and these partners are helping to affirm the unique value of TLPS. We expect the FCC to adopt its proposed rules promptly, and we look forward to bringing this new spectrum to market for the benefit of consumers and the industry."

Globalstar is awaiting a decision by the FCC regarding a request it made to allow the company to offer mobile broadband service over the spectrum it has in the upper 2.4 GHz band. The company has proposed to use TLPS that makes use of that 2.4 GHz band as well as the adjacent unlicensed industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) spectrum at 2473-2483.5 MHz.   

The FCC's approval for this latest experimental license comes after Globalstar came under fire for not adequately conducting and sharing information about previous tests. Namely, as part of hedge fund Kerrisdale Capital's campaign to discredit Globalstar's entire business, it went to far as to call Globalstar's previous TLPS tests "not real tests" but computer simulations and said the results were inadequate and misleading.

Kerrisdale has argued that Globalstar's "simulation" dramatically overestimated the actual range of a TLPS access point, and it asserts that its own tests show TLPS would negatively affect the performance of existing Wi-Fi systems using the unlicensed bands.

Globalstar refuted those claims, saying Kerrisdale is in it for the short-seller term and manipulating information for its own gain, presenting "pseudo-technical arguments" and unnamed sources. Globalstar asserted that the Kerrisdale tests relied on faulty and contrived simulations, whereas Globalstar conducted real-world tests designed to measure the relative speed and distance from an access point through TLPS.

Globalstar applied for this latest experimental license in October, saying that the proposed research and experiment program would use existing 802.11 compliant devices, such as tablets, smartphones and others with 2.4 GHz 802.11 transceiver chipsets and existing 802.11 compliant access points. In all cases, firmware modifications to the transceiver would enable operation of 802.11 Channel 14.

The experiment has several objectives, including the determination of the precise noise and interference characteristics in the 2473-2495 MHz band and determining the efficacy of the TLPS application. Commercial off-the-shelf devices and access points will be used, the filing said.  

Another objective is to determine the efficacy of TLPS for outdoor small cell use in diverse semi-urban environments. "Outdoor 802.11 deployments present a compelling opportunity for cable operators and other networks that can utilize access to backhaul and rights of way across a large geography," the application states.

Based on the FCC's permit allowing the tests, Globalstar will need to coordinate with the 51 microwave licensees in the area to avoid interference and with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, notes Tim Farrar, president of Telecom, Media and Finance (TMF) Associates.

For the previous Silicon Valley testing at Amazon facilities, the agreement called for lower power indoor-only use, he said. This time around, Globalstar wants to test outdoors, so "we will have to see what is agreed" with the other parties. "Obviously there's no point in Globalstar agreeing to only test indoors," he said.

Knowing exactly what's going from an outside observer's standpoint is difficult because Globalstar isn't bound by regulations to share the results of its tests.

"There have been lots of accusations flying around," Farrar noted. "Hopefully we will see a comprehensive technical rebuttal from Globalstar soon. Only after FCC approval, which now looks like it will be delayed until next year, will we see what potential partners think and how much value they attribute to TLPS."

For more:
- see this FCC permit

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