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The fight over a new Wi-Fi channel is coming to a head

Stephen Lawson | June 20, 2016
Globalstar says it can open up another Wi-Fi channel, but with some conditions.

Why do satellite companies keep trying to use their frequencies for other things? Because the FCC set aside those bands for satellite services years ago when no one knew cellular would end up covering so much of the country.

“You didn’t expect mllions of base stations to be deployed,” Tolaga Research analyst Phil Marshall said.

Now that more than 90 percent of the U.S. population is covered by cell networks, the satellite market is limited to the military, certain industries and a few hard-core users.

But Globalstar may end up succeeding where LightSquared failed. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler supports the company’s plan, giving it a big political boost. The appetite for more Wi-Fi spectrum, even through a new and complicated scheme, is one of the strongest forces in wireless these days.


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