French OK Clears Way for 2nd-gen Globalstar Service

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Mobile satellite services operator Globalstar has switched on its ground stations in the United States, Canada and Mexico that communicate with the company’s second-generation satellites following the French government’s registration of the satellites with the United Nations.

Covington, La.-based Globalstar had been concerned that the certification of the second-generation system in France, which is where the constellation is registered, would not arrive until after a deadline set by Globalstar’s loan covenants, backed by the French export-credit agency, Coface.

As it happened, the company was able to win French Research Ministry authorization of the system two days before the Aug. 31 deadline, said L. Barbee Ponder, Globalstar’s general counsel and vice president of regulatory affairs.

In a Sept. 2 interview, Ponder said the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has confirmed that, for U.S. purposes, the French certification and subsequent notification to the United Nations satisfies the U.S. regulator’s demand. The United States has been perhaps Globalstar’s biggest market. Keeping that market out of reach as Globalstar gradually recovers two-way communications capability the new satellites was a blow to the company.

The first six second-generation Globalstar spacecraft were launched in October 2010. A second group of six was launched in July. Two more six-satellite groups are expected to be launched by the end of the year.

Globalstar’s first-generation constellation, launched in the late 1990s, was registered in the United States.