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Google could form LTE alliance with Dish

Satellite TV operator talking to various partners to harness its MSS spectrum, while Globalstar wants to offer terrestrial services


Published: 19 November, 2012

READ MORE: Spectrum | US | Satellite | LTE

Google has played with being a wireless operator for years, investing in various ventures which proved to be damp squibs - metrozone Wi-Fi, WiMAX and even a bid in the US 700MHz auctions. But in the US, it does have major fiber holdings, plus huge influence via Android and its web services, so its latest experiments are always closely watched. It is currently considering a mobile broadband alliance with satellite TV firm Dish Network, which is seeking FCC approval to use its mobile satellite spectrum holdings for LTE.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the talks are at a very early stage, so may come to nothing, but Dish is known to be in discussions with various parties, since it will need a partner to achieve the scale and impact required to launch a 4G service - if it gets FCC approval, which is considered probable. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said in an interview last week that some of the potential partners included companies "who would like to be in the industry" but do not currently have a wireless business.

However, in May Dish said technology and regulatory delays meant it was unlikely to launch its proposed LTE-Advanced network in its S-band spectrum until at least 2016, which would require it to have a highly differentiated business model to make any impact on the major cellcos, which will have national coverage and their own LTE-Advanced upgrades by then.

A deal with Google would bring cash to the venture, but it would be a partnership of two firms with no current RAN infrastructure or experience of the mobile business (though Google's fiber would be a potentially important asset for backhaul).

Also in this area, mobile satellite phone operator Globalstar has petitioned the FCC to give it permission to use its MSS spectrum for terrestrial mobile services too. It is proposing two separate but complementary terrestrial offerings over its exclusively licensed 'Big LEO' spectrum. Oonen would be an LTE service over its whole footprint, and the other would be a TLPS (terrestrial low power service) in its 2.4GHz spectrum. The latter would be a far quicker project to deploy while the former would be a longer term plan rather like Dish's.

Globalstar is asking for rule changes to allow the provision of TLPS within its spectrum at 2483MHZ.5-2495MHz (AWS-5) and adjacent unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical Equipment) frequencies at 2473MHz-2483.5MHz. The company said that using this combined 22MHz of capacity for TLPS would alleviate congestion in existing 802.11 ISM channels (Wi-Fi), increasing available Wi-Fi capacity in the US by one-third. If Globalstar gets permission, it says it will build out 20,000 free TLPS access points in schools, colleges and hospitals, and will provide its mobile satellite services free of charge to its customers in any federally declared disaster area.

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