Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mobile Satellite Ventures Plans Targets 2009/2010 for Launch

Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV), a provider of hybrid satellite-cellular communications backed by Columbia Capital, Spectrum Equity Investors and others, selected Boeing for a new generation of mobile satellites serving North and South America beginning in 2010.

MSV awarded a contract valued at $500 million to $1 billion to Boeing for the construction of three satellites and associated ground systems. Although financial details were not disclosed, Boeing said this is the largest commercial satellite order it has booked since 1997.

The network will based on MSV's patented Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) technology, which will combine satellite and cellular technology to deliver reliable, advanced and widespread voice and data coverage. The service will use wireless devices that are "virtually identical to cell phone handsets in terms of aesthetics, cost, and functionality."

Boeing will also develop ground-based systems that will provide advanced beam forming flexibility and interference cancellation unprecedented in commercial satellite systems.

The satellites will be among the largest and most powerful ever built. Each spacecraft will supply 11,000 watts of power through 5-panel solar array wings using highly efficient triple-junction Gallium arsenide cells. The 22-meter L-band reflector for mobile terminal links will complement a 1.5 meter Ku-band antenna.

MSV-1 and MSV-2 satellites will cover Canada; the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands; Mexico and the Caribbean Basin. The third satellite, MSV-SA will introduce MSV's advanced communications services into South America. The satellites are scheduled to launch in 2009 and 2010.


  • Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) technology which allows existing satellite phone spectrum to also be used over dedicated terrestrial networks, with call capacity managed and reallocated, in real time, between satellite and terrestrial networks via a common control center. Calls can be made over either network using the same phone handset. ATC technology could be used to supplement satellite phone service with a ground-based network to provide a "back-up" signal in and around buildings where satellite signals cannot reach.

  • In January 2003, the FCC granted permission for mobile satellite providers to operate ancillary terrestrial components in their networks using three frequency bands . Specifically, the mobile satellite operators were permitted to use their existing spectrum for both satellite-provided connectivity and terrestrial or tower-based repeaters. They will not be permitted to use their spectrum to offer terrestrial-only services. The terrestrial component would serve only to augment the satellite signals in areas where coverage would otherwise be difficult, such as urban areas or to solve indoor coverage problems. The decision covers three spectrum bands: 2GHz, Big LEO and L-band. The FCC concluded that technically it would be more efficient, feasible and practical to permit MSS licensees to include a terrestrial component in their satellite systems to serve consumers than to award terrestrial rights in the band to third parties. Companies that were granted authorizations to operate mobile satellite services in the 2 GHz band included Boeing, Celstat America, Constellation Communications Holdings, Globalstar, ICO Services, Iridium, Mobile Communications Holdings, and TMI Communications. At the time, the ruling was opposed by wireless carriers, including AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless.

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