Microsoft frags Globalstar’s TLPS Wi-Fi plan over Xbox interference claim

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WASHINGTON — Mobile satellite-service provider Globalstar is still trying to convince the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to let it convert a portion of its satellite spectrum into a terrestrial Wi-Fi network. However, the proposal was dealt another setback  when Microsoft complained to the FCC last month that Globalstar’s so-called Terrestrial Lower Power Solution could create interference problems for the Xbox 360S gaming console.

Globalstar has sought since 2012 to create a new Wi-Fi service using a 22 MHz-wide swath of spectrum known as Channel 14, located at 2.4 GHz. The company has said opening up this spectrum for its TLPS service could provide more capacity for congested public wireless networks.

In 2015, Globalstar successfully demonstrated the service to the FCC, and has since performed other demonstrations of the service, including providing internet connectivity to a Washington school last year. The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, a Washington non-profit focused on improving broadband, has supported TLPS.

While having supporters, Globalstar has run into significant opposition to TLPS from the cable television industry’s CableLabs, the Consumer Electronics Association, mobile satellite-service competitor Iridium Communications, and others. Most recently, Microsoft submitted a study to the FCC showing TLPS signals can disrupt the connection between wireless controllers and the company’s Xbox 360S game console, which was introduced in 2010 and discontinued earlier this year.

Globalstar has sought since 2012 to create a new Wi-Fi service using a 22 MHz-wide swath of spectrum known as Channel 14, located at 2.4 GHz. The company has said opening up this spectrum for its TLPS service could provide more capacity for congested public wireless networks. Credit: Globalstar
Globalstar has sought since 2012 to create a new Wi-Fi service using a 22 MHz-wide swath of spectrum known as Channel 14, located at 2.4 GHz. The company has said opening up this spectrum for its TLPS service could provide more capacity for congested public wireless networks. Credit: Globalstar

Following the study, video-game-console makers Sony and Nintendo echoed Microsoft’s concerns, stating through the Entertainment Software Association that TLPS is “likely to have a profound negative impact on consumers’ use and enjoyment of video game consoles by interfering with communication signals between the controller and the game console.” The companies further claimed that “TLPS could also cause significant harm to other consumer uses of the 2.4 GHz band, including hearing aids with Bluetooth and similar wireless features.”

In response to Microsoft’s claims, Globalstar filed a brief with the FCC that accuses Microsoft of using “flawed methodology” to reach its interference conclusions.

“The opposition’s methodology included an extreme test setup and technical parameters that would never occur in any real world deployment” Globalstar Chief Executive Jay Monroe told investors during a Nov. 3 conference call. “On the contrary, when interference testing is conducted using accurate real world designs as we did and [as] we submitted in our Ex Parte, [coexistence]  has been confirmed in multiple tests and various environments in the past, which are also on the record.”

In Globalstar’s filing, submitted to the FCC Oct. 14, the satellite operator claims that Microsoft’s tests “appear to have been expressly designed to generate such harmful effects.” Globalstar described Microsoft’s test environment, arrangement of equipment, and choice of operating parameters as highly unrealistic and unrepresentative of real-world operating scenarios. The company went on to claim that this makes Microsoft’s data biased and unreliable.

The conflict with Microsoft is clearly a source of frustration for Globalstar, which has engaged in a protracted, multi-year effort to get TLPS off the ground. Monroe said gaining FCC approval remains the company’s No. 1 priority.

“It is concluded that TLPS can easily coexist with unlicensed operations. We trust that the commission will look past these absurd tests from those with obvious competitive interests,” he said during the call.