Satellite Firms Shop Spectrum to FCC

November 11, 2009
WASHIGNTON: Two satellite companies have approached the FCC with a plan for freeing up spectrum for national wireless broadband. This, according to Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm. Qualcomm and SkyTerra pitched the commission on adding a terrestrial component to their satellite networks that would create 100 MHz worth of mobile broadband. The FCC is interested, she said, but the proposed infrastructure changes have been on the table since 2003, when the FCC approved the configuration over the objections of the wireless industry.

Cost is the obstacle. Building a terrestrial network proved prohibitively expensive. Then there’s the issue of handsets, and the absence of such. Higginbotham said a more likely scenario would be for existing carriers to license the spectrum from satellite operators and build out the terrestrial network themselves.

The wireless industry continues to oppose the satellite broadband strategy, which, if it were built out by the satellite operators, would compete with incumbent carriers.

More on the back-and-forth between the satellite firms, the wireless industry and the FCC is available at GigaOm.

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