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Globalstar Launches Satellites For Planned Broadband Service

CEO Dalton targets over 200 rural communities, following FCC's efforts to stimulate mobile satellite services.
Dalton sees several opportunities emerging after the constellation reaches full service status. An older first-generation constellation of eight satellites will be combined with the new satellites to form a 32-satellite configuration. The company, after it emerged from bankruptcy a few years ago, has continued to add global MSS services to users in 120 countries. Globalstar, he said, will also be positioned to provide service in two areas currently in dire need of advanced mobile service: public safety agencies and hard-to-reach isolated rural areas.

In addition, Globalstar has as much as 19 MHz of valuable spectrum that Dalton believes could be put to good use and monetized, assuming the FCC paves the way for those services. Loral and Qualcomm are no longer involved in Globalstar, although Qualcomm will be providing a service handset that Dalton figures will be available to end users for about $600. Dalton also noted that Qualcomm’s CDMA technology also provides robust infrastructure for its service.

“There’s no distortion in CDMA,” said Dalton, noting also that he expects the FCC to permit Globalstar to monetize its spectrum. Terrestrial carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless are expected to run out of spectrum as the number of smartphones explodes, and Dalton sees a potential market opportunity providing some of its extra spectrum to carriers. “We’d like to fill that need,” said Dalton, adding that Globalstar’s spectrum “is an ideal fit for spectrum-short carriers.”

Pricing of Globalstar’s services, already competitive with many terrestrial mobile plans, are expected to drop with time. A monthly plan that includes calls throughout North America is priced at $20 and includes free U.S. and Canadian calls, as well as a free incoming short messaging service.

All Globalstar pieces haven’t fallen into place, although most have. The company is now looking to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the next scheduled launch of six satellites, slated to take place in several weeks.

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