FCC Issues Preliminary Approval for Globalstar To Use Its Spectrum for Terrestrial Service

The FCC issued preliminary approval for Globalstar to use its 2.4 GHz band spectrum for terrestrial mobile services. The company plans to use 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. The FCC’s proposed amendment of rules on the use of this spectrum is now open to public consultation before it takes a final decision on the matter. The FCC said that Globalstar’s proposal to re-farm L-band spectrum will be addressed separately.

This means that Globalstar could, at their option, run a cellular-type service using their previously assigned satellite spectrum bands.  Or it could set Globalstar up as an acquisition candidate as the spectrum value increases.  This kind of decision has implications across the SatCom space.

Globalstar needs cash, not only to build new satellites to replace the eight launched in 2008, but also to update ground stations to run Gen2 services, and R&D to build a new phone that can run Gen2 services.   Globalstar says they can run ful network coverage with just 24 satellites – I find that hard to believe since the original design was for 48 satellites.  Even at 32 satellite I wonder, but at 24?  I don’t see how that would even work properly.

An increased spectrum valuation could run one of three ways:

  1. Nobody cares and Globalstar continues with business as usual (unlikely)
  2. They can leverage the increased value with some kind of cash infusion, upwards of a couple hundred million dollars and then they are on a pretty good road to hitting Gen2 services first.  The question then is: Will the $499 Globalstar phone remain or will the price increase as they look to recover the investment?
  3. The spectrum is perceived as so valuable that they become a takeover candidate and the spectrum is re-purposed for something other than Globalstar satellite vice and data services.  This is a real possibility and the demand for data increases and spectrum becomes scarcer.

This has put Globalstar in an interesting position, almost enviable, as they can partly ‘choose their own adventure’ as one of my choral directors say.  With Jay Monroe having invest a huge personal stake and still owning a large chunk of GSAT, it will be interesting to see what course of action Globalstar takes when as the action heats up.

Stay tuned for more…..