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New SkyTerra Owner Plans 4G System

There may be a new player offering nationwide 4G access and coverage useful for TV network and station news crews.

This week SkyTerra announced the completion of its acquisition by Harbinger Capital Partners.

The SkyTerra satellite-based voice and data network now covers North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Hawaii from two geostationary satellites using L-band spectrum at 1.5 GHz and 1.6 GHz. The future SkyTerra system will use two new satellites and, perhaps more important for Harbinger, an Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC). Harbinger owns part of another mobile satellite service operator, TerreStar, and has investments in terrestrial wireless operators Leap Wireless and Sprint-Nextel.

An article on said Harbinger plans to wholesale 4G network operations and spectrum to mobile provides, PC manufacturers and consumer electronics manufacturers, among others. The article said network will launch in the third quarter of 2011 in Denver and Phoenix.

4G data rates and access via satellite could make this an alternative to satellite news gathering (SNG) trucks in remote areas distant from urban 4G wireless coverage.

In urban areas, is ATC coverage may be useful for ENG, at least for feeding stories. As I understand Harbinger's business plan, a large broadcast network or station group would be able to lease access to the network.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.