Rumor: Amazon's tests of Globalstar TLPS are part of in-home media hub strategy

Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) alleged trials of Globalstar's terrestrial low-power service (TLPS) are part of a process to get a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) quickly issued for the service, and also likely signal Amazon's plans for an in-home media hub, according to the analyst who first broke news of the tests.

In a new blog post, TMF Associates analyst Tim Farrar suggests Globalstar wants interim FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn to initiate an NPRM before she hands the reins toTom Wheeler, who may opt for a lengthier approval process.

The alleged tests were reported last week by Bloomberg, which cited unnamed sources who said the TLPS trial was held in the vicinity of Amazon's Lab126 research facilities in Cupertino, Calif., where Amazon designs its Kindle devices, including Kindle Fire tablets.

Back in March, FierceBroadbandWireless reported that Jarvinian Wireless Application Fund, which has been working with Globalstar for two years, had filed a second application with the FCC for an experimental license to test a TLPS service that could be used for a private, licensed Wi-Fi service operating over Globalstar's satellite spectrum and unlicensed ISM band spectrum. That application covered tests at three locations across California's Silicon Valley, specifically in the cities of Sunnyvale and Cupertino.

Jarvinian earlier applied to conduct TLPS tests in Cambridge, Mass., where the fund is headquartered.

Globalstar is licensed to provide mobile satellite service in the Big LEO band at 1610-1618.725 MHz (the Lower Big LEO band) for uplink operations and 2483.5-2500 MHz (the Upper Big LEO band) for downlink operations. The companies envision creating a TLPS network operating in the upper 2.4 GHz band and also making use of adjacent unlicensed industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) spectrum at 2473-2483.5 MHz.

According to Farrar, the longer it takes Globalstar and Jarvinian to win approval for TLPS, the more likely some other technological approach may usurp TLPS' chances in the marketplace. Potential competition might come from TV white space as well as the 3550-3650 MHz spectrum that the FCC wants to open up for shared use with small cells.

Further, the TLPS concept has raised hackles from the likes of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which has voiced alarm regarding potential interference with adjacent incumbents in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band, and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which is concerned about TLPS' potential impact on existing ISM band users.

Additionally, unease regarding potential impacts on legacy Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) license holders led the FCC to limit TLPS testing in Silicon Valley to lower power levels and indoor locations only. That, in turn, "prompted Globalstar to conduct the latest round of testing in New Orleans where there is no legacy BAS usage, although there are some nearby Part 90 public safety users," Farrar said.

He agreed with reports indicating Amazon is interested in TLPS for wide-area connections, which could replace expensive cellular service that currently delivers data to its Kindle-brand devices.

Further, Amazon could offer an inexpensive, or even free, TLPS-enabled home media hub for gaming and delivery of Amazon Prime streaming video service, said Farrar. The hub would compete against Microsoft's Xbox and similar hubs planned by companies such as Intel, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), he added.

For more:
- see this TMF Associates blog entry

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