As we’ve been blogging over the last month, Harbinger is planning to deploy a multi-billion dollar US ATC network which is breathtaking in its ambition. On Friday, Harbinger filed a letter with the FCC summarizing these plans, which it had told the FCC confidentially a month earlier, before the FCC approved Harbinger taking control of SkyTerra and approved its ATC license modifications, both of which were also announced on Friday.
Specifically, Harbinger plans to develop a nationwide terrestrial broadband mobile 4G LTE network, which, without regard to satellite coverage, will provide wireless data on a nationwide basis, through over 36,000 base stations. The network will be operated on an open access basis and will initially use 23MHz of spectrum, including 8 MHz of 1.4 GHz terrestrial spectrum, 5 MHz of 1.6 GHz terrestrial spectrum (1670-75MHz) and 10 MHz of (SkyTerra’s) MSS/ATC L-band spectrum. Through a cooperation agreement with Inmarsat and associated waivers of the Commission’s ATC rules, by 2013 Harbinger will have access to an additional 30 MHz of ATC spectrum (in the L-band).
In addition, Harbinger also is discussing with other Commission licensees (presumably including TerreStar but clearly also including other terrestrial bands such as WCS) the possibility of hosting or pooling their spectrum in order to enable them on the terrestrial wireless network, i.e., the spectrum would be incorporated into the infrastructure of the terrestrial wireless network. The hosted or pooled spectrum then could be integrated with Harbinger’s spectrum to enhance the broadband capacity of the terrestrial network.
Service will begin in two trial markets, Denver and Phoenix, with a commercial launch before the third quarter of 2011 providing service to up to 9 million POPs. All major markets will be installed by the end of the second quarter of 2013. Harbinger has committed to the FCC that it will construct a terrestrial network to provide coverage to at least 100 million people in the United States by December 31, 2012; to at least 145 million people in the United States by December 31, 2013; and to at least 260 million people in the United States by December 31, 2015. By 2015, the company expects to serve more than 40 million connected consumer terrestrial devices on a wholesale basis, which is even more ambitious than Clearwire’s targets.
Just in case it wasn’t clear already, the proposed Harbinger bid for Inmarsat is not going to happen: the emphasis is on the Cooperation Agreement as the means of exploiting the L-band MSS-ATC spectrum. On the other hand, Inmarsat can’t be disappointed with $115M per year of incremental revenue with no cost and no risk.
Oh, and just to throw one more random guess out there, the first thing I thought of when reading T-Mobile’s recent statements that it has enough spectrum for the next couple of years, but that it was looking at various joint ventures to boost its holdings, and correlating it with Harbinger’s commitments not to sell more than 25% of its capacity to the two largest mobile operators, was that I bet I know who is number one on Harbinger’s list of potential target partners to use its new wholesale network.