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TerreStar Seeks Permission to Sell Assets

It is fortunate broadcasters and Sprint-Nextel were able to complete the 2 GHz relocation last year, given the problems the two mobile satellite service (MSS) licensees sharing the lower portion of the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) band (and the responsibility for funding the move) are having launching their services.

This week, TerreStar asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York for permission to sell its assets at auction on June 15. This would include the world's heaviest satellite – TerreStar-1.

Early last year the FCC approved a terrestrial network component for TerreStar, using the same frequencies, but I haven't heard of any commercial deployment of the terrestrial component.

The other 2 GHz MSS operator with frequencies that used to be part of the 2 GHz BAS band is ICO Global. Last month a subsidiary of that company, DBSD North America, and Dish Networks entered into an agreement where Dish would acquire certain ICO assets and DBSD would get certain rights to ICO's spectrum.

The troubles that TerreStar and ICO Global have had in building out their networks, even with satellites in orbit, shows there is a limit on what the market will pay when it comes to spectrum. If the TerreStar asset sale is approved, it will be interesting to see what the creditors can raise for it at auction. More information on the auction is available in the article TerreStar Networks plans to sell assets at auction by Katy Stech (Dow Jones Bankruptcy Review).

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.