Wi-Fi Alliance, Bluetooth SIG want FCC to end Globalstar proceeding

The Wi-Fi Alliance and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) want the FCC to close its proceeding on Globalstar's proposal to offer services using terrestrial low power service (TLPS), saying the company has had plenty of time to engage in real, transparent testing as opposed to demonstrations.

Bluetooth SIG Executive Director Mark Powell told FierceWirelessTech that nothing has changed since the organization initially said it believes Globalstar's TLPS proposal interferes with Bluetooth. In addition, "we believe it's wrong that one company can have one set of rules for using the ISM band when tens of thousands of other companies have a different set of rules. That's wrong and the wrong thing for the industry."

Globalstar is awaiting a decision by the FCC regarding a request it made to have the FCC alter its rules and 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 offer a 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 company presented a demonstration at FCC facilities in Washington, D.C., earlier this year and more recently presented findings based on a TLPS deployment on a Chicago campus. Powell said that those demonstrations -- which he said are not the same as tests -- were once again vague and the latest demo was as non-transparent as the one earlier in the year. "It's almost insulting the limited details of the Bluetooth testing they did, after which they claim there's no interference," he said.

The Bluetooth SIG and Wi-Fi Alliance are in agreement in that they'd both like to see the commission close the proceeding. In a filing with the commission last week, the Wi-Fi Alliance said Globalstar's most recent demonstration was conducted only using enterprise-class access points, a fact it said was confirmed by Globalstar in a recent teleconference with the Wi-Fi Alliance. In practice, most of the deployed access points are not enterprise-class, but consumer grade, the alliance said, noting that enterprise devices typically have substantially different filters than consumer devices, as well as a much higher degree of radio feature management, and therefore perform differently.

"In addition to using equipment that may have been deliberately selected to produce a favorable result to Globalstar, Wi-Fi Alliance is concerned about the continued lack of transparency in Globalstar's most recent demonstration," Wi-Fi Alliance President and CEO Edgar Figueroa said in the filing, adding that there was little or no information in Globalstar's report on the power levels for the access points operating on Wi-Fi channels 1, 6 and 11 and TLPS operations on channel 14; load factors for the Wi-Fi and TLPS channels; and data types used during the demonstrations.

Powell said that given what he calls a lack of transparency, "all we can assume is they're trying to hide something. They're trying to ... make it look like it's OK when there are indeed actually problems," he said. If there weren't any issues, "why not have everybody involved in an open set of testing? It's shocking how much time everybody's wasting, both the FCC, the Wi-Fi Alliance and ourselves and other industry participants on this whole thing."

"We think there's been more than enough" time for testing and "it's high time the request from Globalstar is denied and the matter closed permanently," Powell said.

For its part, the company isn't backing down. "Globalstar has performed all of the technical work that the Commission has requested to support adoption of its proposed rules," Barbee Ponder, general counsel and vice president of regulatory affairs at Globalstar, said in a statement to FierceWirelessTech. "The Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology requested that Globalstar demonstrate the compatibility of TLPS with other unlicensed services in order to assess actual consumer experiences. This work included the week-long TLPS demonstration at the Commission's Technology Experience Center ("TEC") in March, followed by two days of chamber testing at the Commission's own lab, all of which was overseen by the Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology. The Wi-Fi Alliance and other representatives of unlicensed interests were invited to participate. But rather than actually participate in this cooperative work, the Wi-Fi Alliance decided instead to send its legal counsel to observe discrete parts of Globalstar's demonstration and did not attend any part of the testing at the Commission's own lab."

He added that Globalstar has shown that TLPS is compatible with other unlicensed services "and, indeed, provides an improved Wi-Fi experience where it is deployed. As we have previously reported, Globalstar demonstrated a 40 percent increase in network throughput at the Commission's TEC in March. More recently, Globalstar showed a near doubling of network throughput for participating consumer devices at a Chicago university student center. These significant increases were experienced across all four non-overlapping 802.11 channels, confirming the ability of TLPS to substantially and immediately relieve existing Wi-Fi congestion which represents dramatic consumer benefits."

"By demanding that the Commission close the proceeding and deny consumers the substantial benefits that would otherwise result from TLPS, the Wi-Fi Alliance attempts to further the competitive interests of its controlling members rather than ensure that consumers have the best mobile wireless experience possible," Ponder said. "We believe that the FCC should reject the Wi-Fi Alliance's obstructionist tactics and move expeditiously to adopt its proposed rules."

For more:
- see this Wi-Fi Alliance filing

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