Interesting times for TerreStar…

Posted in Financials, Handheld, Operators, Regulatory, Spectrum, TerreStar at 4:39 pm by timfarrar

There’s a lot happening with TerreStar at the moment, as the company tries to complete the exchange offer to extend the maturity of its preferred shares. The deadline has now been pushed back until early February, while in a separate development, Echostar’s representatives have resigned from TerreStar’s board, effective December 31, 2009.

In the meantime, all eyes will be on the FCC, which needs to approve TerreStar’s ATC application (made back in the summer of 2007) before January 20, 2010 to prevent TerreStar defaulting on its loan agreement for the second satellite, which TerreStar’s deputy GC described in an October 2009 submission to the FCC as an event that “would likely be catastrophic to the company”. TerreStar will certainly be hoping that the FCC’s indications that it is taking another look at MSS allocations as one of the options to free up more spectrum for wireless broadband will not cause them to delay approval of TerreStar’s ATC application beyond this deadline.

Jan 13 update: TerreStar has just received its ATC license, and can look forward to launching commercial service in the “first or second quarter” of 2010 (per its recent statement to Satellite News) once the current testing phase is complete and the company has completed its Preferred Stock Exchange Offer and raised additional funding.

We’re planning to publish our new profile of TerreStar later this month, including forecasts of the market opportunity for both MSS and ATC services, and are also looking forward to trying out the TerreStar Genus phone when its demonstrated at the SATELLITE 2010 show in Washington DC in March. Its going to be fascinating to see whether TerreStar can succeed where others have failed in creating mass market demand for two-way MSS.

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