One sat, two sat, red sat, blue sat

Posted in Financials, LightSquared, Operators, Regulatory at 12:52 pm by timfarrar

“We see them come.
We see them go.
Some are fast.
And some are slow.
Some are high.
And some are low.
Not one of them is like another.
Don’t ask us why.
Go ask your mother.”

Though Dr Seuss did a pretty good job of summarizing the MSS industry, he may not have had the answer to this puzzle. In an interview this week, one of LightSquared’s senior executives referred repeatedly to the “one satellite” LightSquared intends to launch “in the next couple of months”. This is strange because LightSquared was granted a waiver by the FCC back in 2007, enabling it to use two in-orbit satellites for mutual backup rather than relying on a ground spare satellite as would otherwise be required by the ATC gating criteria. The second satellite was apparently needed to satisfy “United States and Canadian interests in the launch of next-generation L band MSS satellites”, and to provide 3dB of extra link margin by use of diversity.

If LightSquared decides not to launch the second satellite, then it would still meet the ground spare requirement in the ATC gating criteria, while saving tens of millions of dollars in insurance and launch costs. However, if it proves successful in its recent request to the FCC to eliminate the ground spare requirement, then presumably not only would LightSquared save on the cost of launching and insuring the second satellite, but could also raise some additional money if it could find a buyer for that satellite.

Given the rapid pace of developments, it looks like a lot of these issues will be clarified over the next few months, most notably who LightSquared’s partners will be, and it will be interesting to see what Phil Falcone pulls out of his hat next. With apologies to Dr Seuss, let’s hope for his sake its not Voom (especially given that when Cablevision finally gave up on the satellite business, it sold the assets to Echostar).

1 Comment »

  1. TMF Associates MSS blog » That’s all folks!…but awkward questions remain said,

    February 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    [...] Of course, the FCC may also be looking to deflect attention from its own release of some documents in response to the numerous Freedom Of Information Act requests that have been filed. Buried in this release are numerous damaging documents which raise questions about the apparent coordination of LightSquared’s November 2010 waiver request with FCC staff prior to it being filed (and incidentally disclose LightSquared’s pricing plan of $6 per Gbyte for terrestrial capacity and $10 per Mbyte for satellite capacity, as well as the overall planned system capacity of 2800 Tbytes per hour terrestrially and 100 Gbytes per hour via satellite) which led to it being put out for comment immediately. It is also unclear whether this meeting with LightSquared on November 16 was disclosed in any ex parte filing. Indeed LightSquared had also been discussing with the FCC a change to their business plan to only launch one satellite, which has never been disclosed publicly (except in one accidental comment that I blogged about at the time). [...]

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