RF Shorts for Oct. 24, 2014

Investor says Globalstar's Wi-Fi Tests Only Computer Simulations, Not Real-world Tests

Remember Globalstar's plan for a 2.5 GHz service it called TLPS? (If not, see the article Globalstar Wi-Fi Spectrum Plan Draws Fire). Globalstar's plans for TLPS raised concerns about interference to BAS channels A9 and A10. Other users of the spectrum, ranging from the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, Clearwire and even microwave oven manufacturers association expressed concerns about the plan.

Now, Monica Alleven reports Investor says Globalstar's Wi-Fi tests are 'not real tests' in her article on Fiercewireless.com. "In its latest salvo, hedge fund Kerrisdale Capital released a report saying it conducted tests using an independent firm, Allion Engineering Services—the same firm that Comcast uses to test its Wi-Fi—and found the test results that Globalstar filed with the FCC in June 2013 'do not reflect real-world tests,'” she writes.

According to the Kerrisdale report, “depending on the scenario, our lab tests show that TLPS activity could reduce the capacity of nearby unlicensed networks by ~60-70 percent. In some cases, when just two TLPS interference sources were introduced, a usable Channel 11 connection went dead. This data, the first of its kind, confirms that TLPS would cause interference. That said, we do not believe that TLPS will ever be commercially viable, so this potential interference is merely hypothetical, from our perspective.”

In a press release reiterating the value of its spectrum holdings, Globalstar responded to the Kerrisdale report, stating that the report’s most recent claims “further demonstrate its lack of understanding of our business and industry, as well as its willingness to manipulate information to advance its self-serving agenda. It is clear that this is yet another attempt by a short-seller to drive Globalstar’s stock price down for its own short term financial gain—at the expense of all Globalstar stockholders.

“Globalstar has completed real-world testing designed to measure the relative speed and distance from an access point through TLPS,” the company said. “This testing was completed utilizing more than 3,000 discrete data points to show the relative difference in coverage from a TLPS access point versus an access point utilizing conventional Wi-Fi channels. While Globalstar conducted real-world testing, Kerrisdale attempted to support its claims via a simulation and materially mischaracterized the intent of Globalstar’s testing.”

Globalstar did not specifically address Kerrisdale’s asserted interference to nearby Wi-Fi devices but noted that Kerridale set the channel 14 devices (which would be in the TLPS band) to operate using the 802.11b standard while the channel 11 devices were set to use the newer 802.11n mode.

The FCC has yet to act on Globalstar's proposal for TLPS.

Will a “Skynet” Obsolete Today's Wireless Distribution Networks?

What if a technology emerged that could provide low cost, universal Internet access at high speeds without the need to run wires, erect towers or buy spectrum? That's a future envisioned by Stephen Saunders, Founder and CEO of “Light Reading”.

In his article on LightReading.com, he writes Forget the Internet, Brace for Skynet, in which he envisions that Internet access would be provided by drones, not the existing wireless infrastructure. Saunders describes the future: “It consists of a global network of thousands of ultra-high-altitude (65,000 feet, or 13 miles high) solar-powered drones, equipped with some variation of next-gen microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband capacity to the entire planet. I'm calling this drone network 'Skynet,' after the antagonist in the Terminator movies, and because I suspect that it might eventually be equally destructive (to existing telecom operator business models, that is).”

Saunders compares his vision for “Skynet” to Arthur C. Clarke's prediction of the advent of a global satellite communications network in 1945 that took almost 20 years to become a reality. Some of the potential obstacles he sees are the “regulatory/legal shenanigans surrounding the knotty issue of wireless spectrum allocation, and the small matter of who owns the 'air rights' up at 65,000 feet.”

It is an interesting concept and he notes that Facebook and Google are making the most aggressive moves in the “next-gen drone comms market.”

Wireless Week: AWS-3 Auction is Going to be a 'Street Fight'

In his article Analysts: AWS-3 Auction is Going to Be a Street Fight on WirelessWeek.com, Ben Munson reports, “In total, 80 potential bidders have submitted both complete and incomplete applications to participate in Auction 97. In addition to the big name players, smaller carriers like Guam-based Docomo and Bluegrass Wireless have thrown their hats in the ring. But four competitors stand out from the rest.” He writes, “It’s all available to the highest bidder and there’s a good chance AT&T, Dish Network, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless will attract the most attention and potentially walk away with the most spectrum. Sprint, as it previously promised, will not be participating in the auction—which makes sense as it doesn’t currently have any AWS holdings.”

Munson analyzes the four main contenders and provides Mosaik Solutions maps to highlight what AWS spectrum they already have.

It is an interesting analysis and worth a read to get an idea of the major wireless carriers need for additional spectrum.

Doug Lung

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.