Motorola + SkyTerra Team for 700 MHz/Sat Radios

SkyTerra today confirmed its filing on August 18, 2009 with the NTIA for stimulus funds, part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Stimulus Program, which seeks to increase broadband adoption in the United States. SkyTerra’s application will focus on public safety.

Included in the filing is a letter from Motorola, expressing support for 700 MHz public safety broadband with ancillary satellite access. SkyTerra’s proposal to develop dual mode broadband satellite and 700 MHz terrestrial devices for the public safety community.

While Motorola is not acting as a co-applicant, and has not been selected as a vendor to SkyTerra, Motorola expressed support for stimulus funding for this strategic area in a letter submitted with the SkyTerra application. “Motorola believes such satellite access could be an important element to supplement terrestrial coverage, especially in rural areas where public safety broadband terrestrial build out may be less practical than in more populated areas,” said Rick Neal, Motorola vice president of business development.

SkyTerra delivers mobile wireless voice and data services primarily for public safety, security, fleet management and asset tracking in the U.S. and Canada. Beginning in the first quarter of 2010, MSV will deploy two geostationary satellites, each with a 22 meter antennas using the L-band (1.6 GHz).

TerreStar Networks, an affiliated company with SkyTerra, has already launched a satellite with an 18 meter antenna at 2 GHz (MSS band). It is similar to the planned SkyTerra network in that it uses spot beams for satellite connections to small mobile devices and can handoff to repeaters, using their Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC).

ComScore says broadband penetration rates in rural areas have been growing at a 16% rate over the past two years versus an 11% rate in metropolitan areas, but broadband penetration in rural areas is 75%, said comScore, below the national average of 89%.

Clearwire spokeswoman, Susan Johnston, said today: “Clearwire has submitted for a couple of modest grants under the broadband stimulus program. These projects would have no significant impact on our funding or our existing build-out plans, but demonstrate our support of the government’s initiative to bring broadband to underserved areas.”

Clearwire said more details will be available once the filings are made public. Smaller WiMax providers in the U.S. that have applied for stimulus funds include KeyOn (using 3.65 GHz), TowerStream (using fixed WiMAX), and Open Range (using satellite phone frequencies), but most cellular providers have abstained from participating for fear of additional regulatory oversight. Clearwire says it has enough money to build a network that would reach 75 million people this year, and hopes to raise enough to reach 120 million people by 2010.

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Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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