Globalstar asked the FCC in November to let them add a 4th Channel in the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band (pdf), called Channel 14, which they currently control for satellite communications. Globalstar would control who could uses that channel, explains Computer World.
The spectrum is at the very top of the unlicensed band, and adjacent to Globalstar’s satellite spectrum. It is restricted from Wi-Fi use in order to protect that licensed band. But part of the 2.4GHz spectrum is “lying fallow” in the U.S. because there aren’t enough frequencies to provide another non-overlapping channel, according to Globalstar.
“This petition would place an additional 22MHz into the national broadband inventory near term while leveraging existing handset technology and infrastructure,” said L Barbee Ponder, Globalstar’s general counsel and vice president of regulatory affairs.
Globalstar would first use the spectrum for special Wi-Fi networks and later, possibly, for their own 4G LTE system.
Monday was the deadline for filing comments to the FCC on Globalstar’s plan. The Wi-Fi Alliance, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group and other industry entities have voiced concerns about the proposal. They fear it effectively would let the company license spectrum that is defined as unlicensed.
The Wi-Fi Alliance opined that the FCC’s out of band emission rules could reduce Wi-Fi spectrum for users without the special band. Specifically, those rules could force Wi-Fi users off Channel 11, the next Wi-Fi band down from Channel 14, the group said. Because channels overlap, there effectively are only three usable Wi-Fi channels in the 2.4GHz band, so losing Channel 11 would be significant.
Current Wi-Fi chips would be able to use that band with a firmware upgrade, Globalstar said. If it gets permission to use the spectrum, Globalstar at first wants to set up a terrestrial low-power service in schools and hospitals, using Wi-Fi gear with the extra channel.
Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed adding 195MHz of additional spectrum to the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band by having unlicensed uses share the space with federal agencies. The FCC plan would add two new bands, ultimately giving Wi-Fi a contiguous block from 5.150 to 5.925. That’s especially useful for 802.11ac which can use channels up to 160MHz wide.