07.09.13

What is Amazon’s “transformative consumer broadband application”?

Posted in Clearwire, Financials, Operators, Regulatory, Spectrum at 8:01 pm by timfarrar

Last week, John Dooley of Jarvinian, who have been conducting tests of Globalstar’s proposed TLPS service (which is intended to provide a dedicated, managed WiFi channel) made a filing with the FCC in which he stated that the recent TLPS testing in the Bay Area was undertaken “to help a major technology company assess the significant performance benefits of TLPS for a transformative consumer broadband application”. His filing did not state the name of this company, but the testing under Globalstar’s experimental license (issued by the FCC on April 1) was undertaken at 3 locations in Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

The 3 latitude/longitude coordinates given in the experimental license are at:
1) 20450 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino (37-19-20 N, 122-01-53 W), the contact address for Amazon’s Lab 126 subsidiary
2) 1120 Enterprise Way, Mountain View (37-24-34 N, 122-02-11 W), recently leased by Amazon to accommodate Lab 126, and
3) 10201 Torre Avenue, Cupertino (37-19-11 N, 122-01-48 W), another Lab 126 office.

Of course, Amazon’s potential interest in Globalstar’s spectrum appears to be a key reason why Thermo agreed to invest another $85M into Globalstar in May, in order to complete the 5.75% notes exchange and restructure Globalstar’s $586M loan guaranteed by COFACE. Many investors are now also eagerly expecting the FCC to issue an NPRM setting out proposed rules for TLPS, although it is somewhat unclear whether Chairman Clyburn will act on her own, or if any decision will have to wait for incoming Chairman Wheeler (who has worked extensively on interference issues as chairman of the FCC’s TAC, which issued a report in February suggesting TLPS would be a good candidate for the FCC’s new approach to adjacent band interference).

The fact that the Globalstar experimental license will last for two years suggests that it may take some time for all interference issues to be resolved (including the dispute with BAS interests which is becoming increasingly heated) and/or for Amazon to make a final decision on whether to use TLPS or other spectrum for its planned new application. If Amazon does choose Globalstar then this could lead to a substantial windfall: Globalstar has asserted that its spectrum is even more valuable than that of Clearwire, because of the unique compatibility of TLPS with existing WiFi equipment, implying that it puts a value of at least $2B on the 22MHz of TLPS spectrum.

With the FCC’s intention to license additional spectrum for unlicensed or shared use in the 3600MHz and 5GHz bands, along with promotion of white space access technology, Amazon may have a choice of other cheaper spectrum (albeit without the same ecosystem) in the near future or even using capacity on an existing wireless network. However, until we find out more about the nature of Amazon’s plans it will be hard to know which spectrum is most suitable, and how much Amazon would want to pay to gain access to it.

12 Comments »

  1. the keyboard of geoff goodfellow said,

    July 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Ahem TMF! :D

    #1.) did you perhaps “forget” to mention that GSAT’s 22MHz of TLPS spectrum — unlike the other players/holders of frequency in this arena — IS WORLD/PLANET WIDE HARMONIZED as opposed to that of being just relegated to the US only ?

    #2.) any thoughts on the “transformative consumer broadband application” — vis-a-vis http://allthingsd.com/20130709/amazon-quietly-tests-streaming-flash-videos-to-kindle-fire-owners/ — as a possible use for the GSAT TLPS WORLD-WIDE HARMONIZED spectrum so as to be free and clear of the extant uncontrolled public “Wi-Fi Traffic Jammed” channels that anyone can access?

  2. timfarrar said,

    July 10, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Geoff,

    The spectrum is harmonized worldwide for MSS. That doesn’t mean regulators elsewhere will follow the FCC in allowing satellite spectrum holders to receive a windfall by converting it to terrestrial services.

    Look at Europe, where its been hard to develop the 2GHz MSS licenses under CGC rules (some regulators like Ofcom impose steep fees if you want to use the spectrum terrestrially). Look at India, where there is litigation over Devas, which tried to convert 2.5GHz satellite spectrum to terrestrial.

    And in Japan, apparently WiFi Channel 14 is authorized for use already, without Globalstar’s consent, let alone any payment for use of the spectrum. So perhaps you get use of WiFi Channel 14 in other countries, but I suspect its more likely that regulators will do this without Globalstar’s involvement (if interference with their MSS services in the US proves manageable) rather than allow Globalstar to obtain and control terrestrial spectrum rights on a worldwide basis.

  3. ORBITRAX said,

    July 12, 2013 at 8:48 am

    BAS Interests ??

    The credibility of EIBASS seems to have completely imploded.

    Let alone what appears to be their complete lack of any form of “fact checking” before they composed their letter to the Commission. EIBASS has, in the past, stressed the importance of maintaining access to A10 to the limited grandfathered markets due to the critical “life-saving” aspects of continued access to A10 in these markets. Note, they fail to mention that BAS availability seems fine in markets that do not have grandfathered A10 access. However, in their letter date June 26th, EIBASS states the following.

    “Mr. Dooley was cautioned that KPIX-TV was actively using
    A10 in the South Bay, and that this use included operations from a blimp covering the San Jose Sharks National Hockey League playoff games.”

    Cautioned over an aerial blimp over the “Shark Tank” for some 5 second bumper shots??? Really?? That’s all they have here?

    More stations are moving to solutions like LiveU that actually use the CMRS networks for remote backhaul. Dependency on BAS spectrum is falling do to newer, more efficient technologies. While EIBASS wants to protect 20 year old analog equipment used for Blimp Shots above a Sports Venue for 5 second “scenic” bumper shots at the expense of increased Broadband availability to millions.

    ORBITRAX

  4. Amazon tried out ‘transformative’ new wireless network for future products - Howard Roper said,

    August 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    [...] “allow customers to connect its devices to the Internet.” The tests were actually first noticed by Tim Farrar, who discovered an FCC filing in which Jarvinian stridently argued that the TLPS network [...]

  5. Amazon Tests Wireless Network - Dice News said,

    August 23, 2013 at 8:28 am

    [...] Managing Director John Dooley said it was helping  “a major technology company assess the significant performance benefits of TLPS for a transformative consumer broadband [...]

  6. Amazon’s wireless network trials are no mystery: It’s testing licensed Wi-Fi — Tech News and Analysis said,

    August 23, 2013 at 8:39 am

    [...] service (TLPS), and satellite communications analyst and frequent GigaOM contributor Tim Farrar uncovered the details of the tests last month in his blog. Here’s the basic [...]

  7. 4gpro said,

    August 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

    The problem of experimental use of wireless in constrained spectrum bands such as White Spaces, 3.5GHz, 3.65GHz, and 5GHz is the almost total lack of a means to gain commercial momentum via user adoption. The TPLS approach stands a chance of bridging the adoption of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi to the adjoining MSS spectrum band.

    That has a chance of gaining widespread use even though regulatory changes are required for international adoption.

    However, what has to be shown is that the range can be substantially increased over Wi-Fi while dealing with limitations caused by interference. If so, then its possible that Amazon and others could make use of the a common supply and device ecosystem to bind together a commercially effort.

    Thus far, Microsoft, Google, Intel, and others have pursued W.S. and other experimental wireless efforts with technical enthusiasm that fails to figure out how to bridge into commercial markets.

    Its hard to say this will meet with any greater success than W.S. and other faulty attempts. In the long run these may just serve the purpose of leverage more favorable terms for access to the mainstream commercialized mobile/ICT bands.

  8. Amazon’s wireless network trials are no mystery: It’s testing licensed Wi-Fi – GigaOM | Custom News Cast said,

    August 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

    [...] service (TLPS), and satellite communications analyst and frequent GigaOM contributor Tim Farrar uncovered the details of the tests last month in his blog. Here’s the basic [...]

  9. TMF Associates MSS blog » Will it be AmaFON? said,

    August 23, 2013 at 11:33 am

    [...] like everyone has finally woken up to Amazon’s tests of Globalstar’s TLPS service that I wrote about in early July. Presumably “people with knowledge of the matter” are talking to the press now because [...]

  10. Amazon arbeitet angeblich an weltweitem Funknetz | Edv-Sicherheitskonzepte.de – News Blog aus vielen Bereichen said,

    August 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    [...] haben Tests von Funkfrequenzen der beiden Unternehmen stattgefunden – oder finden noch statt. Globalstar ist im Besitz von [...]

  11. PTT Pick Alert: Amazon Eyes Globalstar's Network - PoisedToTriple.comPoisedToTriple.com said,

    August 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    [...] The tests were conducted by Jarvinian, a research and investment organization focused on addressing the looming wireless spectrum shortage. Coincidentally, an employee of Jarvinian, submitted a filing with the FCC, as reported by TFM Associates MSS Blog: [...]

  12. PTT Research said,

    September 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    [...] The tests were conducted by Jarvinian, a research and investment organization focused on addressing the looming wireless spectrum shortage. Coincidentally, an employee of Jarvinian, submitted a filing with the FCC, as reported by TFM Associates MSS Blog: [...]

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