Globalstar Seeking FCC Approval for Ambitious Wi-Fi Plans

Globalstar may get the FCC’s permission to convert its satellite spectrum into a private Wi-Fi network. On Friday, the FCC began its review of the satellite company’s Wi-Fi proposal. If the plan is approved, Globalstar would be able to sell its assets to companies like Amazon that need bandwidth without 4G mobile broadband capabilities. The FCC has rejected similar requests from other satellite companies, but Wi-Fi is low-powered enough that it might pass.

If Globalstar’s request is granted, it’ll be able to transform 11.5MHz of its S-band satellite spectrum into airwaves to be used for wireless broadband, according to GigaOM. “Globalstar’s plan is to combine those airwaves with adjacent unlicensed 2.4GHz frequencies to create a 22MHz band for a private Wi-Fi network,” notes the post.

Amazon is one potential client for that kind of service should it be in need of other options for its Whispernet services.

LightSquared is another company that had hopes of tapping into satellite airwaves, but that request was rejected. The company’s LTE network was likely to interfere with nearby GPS signals, according to GigaOM, and the plans fell flat. Dish Network had better luck when it received the FCC’s permission to repurpose its spectrum last year.

“Still the FCC appears to make caution a priority in its rule making process,” GigaOM writes. Its newly appointed chairman Tom Wheeler is wasting no time giving his input on the commission’s decision-making.

“As the language perhaps reflects Wheeler’s more cautious stance compared to former Chairman [Julius] Genachowski’s ‘full speed ahead’ approach, it is hard to predict what this will mean for Globalstar’s potential approval process.,” writes GigaOM contributor Tim Farrar on his blog.