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Satellite Update—Globalstar Gets Permission for 2.5 GHz Channel A10 for ATC

In an Order and Authorization (FCC 08-254) adopted Oct. 31, the FCC granted a request by Globalstar Licensee LLC to modify its authority for an ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) to be operated in conjunction with the Globalstar mobile satellite service (MSS) system.

The Order and Authorization allows Globalstar to use the WiMAX air interface protocol and provides an interim waiver of certain of the FCC's “gating criteria” and technical rules. The Order and Authorization said that FCC found these modifications “will serve the public interest by permitting Globalstar and its spectrum lessee, Open Range Communications, Inc., to commence deployment of a broadband service consistent with a $267 million loan commitment from the Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Program.”

Users of broadcast auxiliary service 2.5 GHz Channel 10 may see some impact from this decision, as the frequency band 2487.5-2493 MHz will be used for Globalstar ATC base station transmission as well as mobile terminal transmission. The FCC Order and Authorization states, “Because we are waving Section 25.149(a)(1) to allow Globalstar ATC mobile terminals to transmit with a TDD WiMAX protocol in the 2483.5-2495 MHz band, we will impose a condition to require such mobile terminals to be coordinated with other stations operating in that band in the same way that Section 25.254(a)(3) requires base stations to be coordinated.”

While first generation Globalstar services rolling out to 2,500 customers in five markets in a “proof-of-concept deployment” will receive first generation devices with one-way only, low-data-rate MSS capabilities, the second generation chip set, scheduled to be available in 2011, will allow two-way voice and data services at data rates of approximately 1 Mbps downlink and 256 kbps uplink. Globalstar says that once the planned Globalstar/Open Range MSS/ATC service is deployed, it will “produce very significant public interest benefits by affording broadband access to millions of rural Americans who now have little or no access to such service.”

The Globalstar MSS system utilizes low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which offers the potential for much lower latency than geostationary orbit satellites, making the system suitable for applications such as voice-over-IP telephony.

In other satellite news, PanAmSat Licensee Corp. received special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC to stop the drift of Galaxy 11 at 32.5 degrees east longitude (EL) and to conduct tests for a period of 14 days commencing Nov. 5, 2008, prior to continuing the drift of the satellite to the 32.8 degree EL orbital location.

And, the FCC granted Intelsat North America LLC's request for STA for a period of 30 days, commencing on Oct. 29, 2008, to continue operating the tracking, telemetry, and command payload on its MARISAT-F2 satellite to perform end of life maneuvers boosting the satellite to a disposal orbit above the geostationary arc. From FCC Report SAT-00562.

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.