Globalstar's private Wi-Fi plan may win FCC approval this year

Globalstar's plans to offer terrestrial low power service (TLPS) using its Big LEO S band license may be on track for quick approval by the FCC, according to a note issued by analysts at New Street Research.

The analysts said they recently met with Globalstar management, which was generally pleased with reply comments submitted in response to the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). While some commenters requested further testing, Globalstar management "is confident that they will gain approval by the end of the year," New Street said.

Specifically, Globalstar was said to view support for its plan from Samsung in the reply comments, and the lack of reply comments from Sprint (NYSE: S) and Cisco, as positive developments. The Bluetooth community and the Wi-Fi Alliance have called for additional testing before TLPS is approved, but New Street said Globalstar's management does not expect the FCC to require that.

According to New Street analysts, if the FCC's International Bureau, Office of Engineering and Technology plus Wireless Telecommunications Bureau do not seek additional information from Globalstar related to its TLPS proposal, the satellite company intends to ask the chairman's office to let the  International Bureau draft a report and order (R&O) on the plan.

Drafting and voting on the order might take up to two months, leaving enough time for approval of Globalstar's plan by year-end.

TLPS would work over Globalstar's 11.5 MHz of previously licensed S-band spectrum at 2483.5-2495 MHz, as well as the adjacent 10.5 MHz of unlicensed spectrum at 2473-2483.5 MHz, to form a new 22 MHz Wi-Fi channel. Globalstar would use the combined spectrum for what amounts to a private Wi-Fi service, which it would charge wireless carriers, Internet service providers, device makers or other technology companies to access. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has reportedly dabbled with the idea of using Globalstar's TLPS spectrum, though with a focus on using it as a foundation for an in-home media hub rather than Amazon's newly announced Fire smartphone.

New Street noted the new channel that Globalstar wants to create would be unique in that it is already included in the Wi-Fi standard and existing Wi-Fi devices are capable of using the spectrum as soon as it is deployed. And because the spectrum is globally harmonized, it could be used terrestrially worldwide if approved for that purpose in other jurisdictions.

New Street actually does not cover Globalstar but said it believes the market is currently valuing the satellite company's TLPS spectrum at $0.61 per MHz POP.

Related news:
Iridium's portable hotspot extends satellite coverage to smartphones, tablets
Globalstar's Sat-Fi to deliver satellite coverage to Wi-Fi enabled devices
Globalstar says proposed TLPS rules are even better than expected
Rumor: Amazon's tests of Globalstar TLPS are part of in-home media hub strategy
Report: Amazon testing wireless network using Globalstar's spectrum
Globalstar's 22 MHz-wide TLPS channel said to outdo Wi-Fi

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