TerreStar Gets a Slot


The FCC last week granted TerreStar Networks a reservation on 20MHz of spectrum in the 2GHz frequency band for use in both the United States and Canada to operate its next generation satellite phone system.


Motient Corporation owns a piece of both TerreStar and Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV). Both plan satellite phone service throughout North America.

TerreStar will use the 2 GHz MSS band. MSV will use the L-Band. Both will use their patented Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) “repeater”.

“FCC spectrum approval is a key milestone for TerreStar as we move forward with our build, own and operate strategy for creating North America’s first 4G integrated mobile satellite and terrestrial communications network and validates the tremendous progress we have made to date,” said Robert H. Brumley, President and CEO of TerreStar Networks.

The “Launch on Demand” contract between TerreStar and Arianespace entitles TerreStar to a launch window for TerreStar I, commencing November 2007. TerreStar-2, also built by Space Systems/Loral, will carry a large unfurlable reflector with many dozens of “spot beams”.

Last week Last week MSV announced the first hybrid WiMAX/mobile satellite trial. It will use Nortel WiMAX technology for the last mile.

Craig McCaw-backed ICO, a similar huge geosynchrous platform, shares the other half of the 40 MHz MSS spectrum. McCaw’s Clearwire may be a natural complement to their proposed satellite service. Hughes Network Systems will test ICO’s Mobile Interactive Media (MIM) services, in spring of 2008. It’s a converged entertainment and communication platform, based upon ICO’s next-generation geostationary satellite (ICO G1 satellite) and an Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) repeater.

ICO’s GEO satellite design (above) is based on a Loral 1300 standard satellite platform that has been optimized for GEO MSS/ATC communications requirements. It features an expected 15-year service life and a 12-meter unfurlable reflector focusing the 2 GHz signals on North America.

Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV), a sister operation of TerreStar, plans to use the L-Band, around 1.6 GHz, for similar satellite phone service. MSV combined Motient’s satellite operations with those of Ottawa-based TMI. MSV plans to launch three satellites: MSV-1 (U.S.), MSV-2 (Canada) and MSV-SA (South America). The L-band MSV-1 and MSV-2, satellites will operate from 101 degrees and 107.3 degrees with 22-meter mesh reflectors linking to conventional handsets.

MSV contracted with Boeing to build three mega-satellites (left) for a combined cost of up to $1 billion for mobile satellite phone service. Each of the satellite’s primary 1.6 GHz band antennas will be almost 75 feet across. They’ll be launched in 2009 and 2010, working in unison with ground-based towers. MSV-1 and MSV-2 will replace and expand upon the current MSAT satellite system operated by MSV and MSV Canada.

TerreStar’s 2 GHz MSS service could launch as early as November 2007 with MSV’s L-Band service expected to follow in 2009 and 2010.

Scheduled for delivery in 2007, TerreStar-1 will carry an 18-meter reflector (above) provided by Harris for their 2 GHz (MSS) service. The TerreStar satellite will be capable of generating hundreds of spot beams covering the Continental U.S., Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

L-band Mobile-Satellite Service (like that of Iridium and GlobalStar) uses 1525–1559 MHz (Space-to-Earth) and 1626.5–1660.5 MHz (Earth-to-space) while the 2 GHz Mobile-Satellite Service (used by some geosynchrous satellites) uses 2000–2020 MHz: (Earth-to-space) and 2180–2200 (Space-to-Earth).

The techniques developed and patented by MSV allow the same (MSS) frequency band to be used for both satellite and terrestrial communications seamlessly, yielding simplified single-band/single-mode transparent user devices

MSV-1 and MSV-2 will replace and expand upon the current MSAT satellite system operated by MSV and MSV Canada. They will cover Canada and the United States. The third satellite, MSV-SA will introduce MSV’s advanced communications services into South America. Boeing is building the spacecraft, based on the world’s most powerful satellite – the Boeing 702.

It will supply 11,000 Watts of power through 5-panel solar array wings and deploying L-band technology. The 22 meter L-band reflector for mobile terminal links will complement a 1.5 meter Ku-band antenna. MSV has contracted with ILS for the launch in 2009 and Sea Launch for the launch in 2010 for their two, high-powered satellites.

While Iridium and Globalstar use LEO satellites, and send everything up to the bird, Motient uses GEO satellites with spot beams and terrestrial repeaters (ATC).

Other geosats (like Inmarsat) use the “L” band but require small VSATs. Motient uses spot beams, enabling small, cellular-like devices. Motent’s repeaters in urban areas are similar to those used by XM satellite radio — except they are two-way. Satphone repeater networks are expected to bring voice and data connectivity inside automobiles and buildings — a huge advantage over today’s LEO and GEO satellite phones.

A hybrid satellite-terrestrial trial is planned using MSV satellite links and Nortel WiMAX gear. The trial will be conducted near Reston, Virginia, testing wireless voice, data and Web access, file sharing, and VoIP connectivity using residential gateway devices and PC Cards. Subsequently, MSV expects to incorporate push-to-talk, video calling, picture-caller ID, and presence capabilities.

Related DailyWireless articles include; Satellite Repeaters – Grounded In Reality?, MSS: AWS Alternative?, Tracking Hazardous Materials — & The Iditarod, Globalstar in Trouble, GlobalStar: Give Us Repeater Freqs, Satphones Localize, John Malone in Space, T-Mobile Plans UMTS, AWS: It’s Done, Fight for the Right (of 3.5GHz), and The AWS & 700MHz Dance.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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