Globalstar touts TLPS benefits in Chicago trial deployment

Globalstar says new tests conducted at a college campus in Chicago over the summer give the company even more confidence that its Terrestrial Low Power Service (TLPS) operations will not interfere with existing 2.4 GHz unlicensed operations. But to allay concerns, it's ready to commit to using a network operating system (NOS) to employ interference detection and mitigation techniques, and it has identified the existing Wi-Fi network management system of ViaSat as an ideal platform for doing so.

And in the category of "one more thing" -- the company says it will not deploy any LTE-U-based service in unlicensed spectrum until the FCC has otherwise allowed such deployments to proceed. Some commenters in Globalstar's FCC proceeding had expressed concerns that the company could use the spectrum to deploy a service based on LTE-U.

Globalstar told the FCC that over the summer, Chicago-based Roberson & Associates ran a deployment using Ruckus access points and different client devices. By adding an additional 22 MHz channel (TLPS Channel 14) to the college campus' 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, users experienced increased aggregate throughput in excess of 90 percent, according to Globalstar.

"We were able to demonstrate a rather significant increase in overall capacity of a wireless network when Channel 14 was added as a fourth non-overlapping channel," Barbee Ponder, Globalstar's general counsel, told FierceWirelessTech. It wasn't just increasing capacity for those clients that were on Channel 14, "but it increased the capacity substantially of those that remained on Wi-Fi Channels 1, 6 and 11" to the tune of 92 percent. "You're effectively doubling the throughput available for everyone on the network."  

According to Globalstar, a demonstration at the FCC's facilities earlier this year showed that TLPS can be a good neighbor to Wi-Fi operations on IEEE 802.11 Channel 11 and Bluetooth device operations within the unlicensed ISM band at 2400-2483.5 MHz. However, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), among others, disagreed, saying its own demonstrations at the FCC actually provided illustrations of interference with Bluetooth hearing aids and Bluetooth Smart Lighting.

With the latest tests, "what we're doing is taking it a step further and we're providing additional information regarding the network operating system that we plan to use," Ponder said. "We're basically saying we don't think we're going to interfere with any licensed or unlicensed service," but if anyone believes it is, they can consult a third-party network manager.

Ponder said TLPS will be a managed service with networked access points that will be controlled through a carrier-grade network NOS analogous to the systems used to manage pico and femto cellular infrastructure. For example, if a wireless Internet service provider (WISP) believes something Globalstar has deployed interferes with its system, the WISP can contact the NOS and quickly determine if Globalstar is in the area and causing interference.

That said, "all the work that we've done, both in the lab and with these deployments now, we're incredibly confident that we will not be the cause of any interference into other services," Ponder said.

In a letter included in Globalstar's latest FCC filing, ViaSat said it can provide a suite of services ranging from authentication of users on the network through the ability to respond in real time to any interference issues should they be reported. ViaSat also runs remote diagnostics on access points to assure they run within desired technical parameters. In the event of a malfunction or interference complaint, ViaSat can reduce the power to access points in an affected area, power off access points in an affected area or change the channel assignment to another channel.   

"ViaSat looks forward to the potential of being the network management partner for Globalstar and supporting the capabilities of TLPS to enhance the quality of service for consumers, enterprises and governments," wrote Robert M. Brown, vice president of sales and business development/wireless services at ViaSat.

Globalstar still faces a lot of opposition to its plans to use TLPS. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) earlier this year expressed concerns about the potential effect of Globalstar's TLPS system on existing uses of the 2.4 GHz band. Paul Margie, counsel to NCTA, pointed out in a May 20 letter to the FCC that numerous industry and public interest groups, including the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, the Wi-Fi Alliance, New America's Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge, all oppose FCC action on the proceeding.

NCTA told FierceWirelessTech that it had no immediate comment on Globalstar's latest filing.

In July, the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) urged the FCC to proceed cautiously with Globalstar's proposed use of the 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band. The association said it's concerned about the impact on hearing technologies and it wants to see further peer review of the testing done to date, as well as testing that better reflects real-world conditions.

However, Globalstar did get a thumbs up from iPass, which bills itself as the world's largest Wi-Fi Network and whose clients include Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Hewlett Packard. HP is bundling iPass Wi-Fi services in all HP laptop and tablet devices shipped in specific geographies, and Microsoft is using iPass to provide Wi-Fi services for Skype, as well as for Windows 10 and Office 365 Wi-Fi.

iPass previously registered its support for TLPS, but given Globalstar's latest filing, it believes it sets a path "that can give the FCC and all other users of the band confidence that TLPS will be an innovative, pro-consumer compliment to existing use of this band." After reviewing the most recent data published by Globalstar, "we conclude that this network operating system helps assure no interference, and protection that the unlicensed spectrum has not enjoyed before," said iPass President and CEO Gary Griffiths in a letter. "We believe TLPS is good for both our industry and for consumers, and would encourage the FCC to rule favorably on Globalstar's request."

For more:
- see this iPass filing
- see this Globalstar filing

Related articles:
Globalstar investors call for swift FCC TLPS approval
Bluetooth SIG, others dispute Globalstar's TLPS test results
Globalstar: Tests at FCC facility show successful TLPS implementation