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A Comparison Of Globalstar's Wi-Fi Channel To The Channels Already Available

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Globalstar (NYSE: GSAT) is looking to get its spectrum approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and provide another Wi-Fi channel to the public.

The company is planning to sell the usage of this channel, even though the other channels are offered for free. Globalstar doesn’t offer any access points or hardware that allows a connection to its Wi-Fi channel, like Boingo (NASDAQ: WIFI) does.

Globalstar is a $2B+ market cap battleground stock, and a bull vs bear debate is currently raging. What is important when deciding which side to be on, is to study the details of the technology and evaluate how much it’s worth.

Putting on our wireless communication engineer caps, lets analyze what Globalstar has to offer, and if its channel is worth paying for.

Comparing Globalstar’s 2.4GHz Wi-Fi Channel To 5GHz Channels

Globalstar has one Wi-Fi channel it calls Terrestrial Low Power Service (TLPS). TLPS isn’t a new 5GHz Wi-Fi channel, but the older 2.4GHz channel. In this Globalstar webinar presentation, on page 13, it shows that its channel is Channel #14, a 2.4GHz channel, and it owns the rights to half of it.

A comparison of a 2.4GHz vs 5GHz channel is below, taken from Netgear’s website:


What the above comparison shows is:

Interference: The 2.4GHz band encounters more interference than the 5GHz signal because:

  • There are many wireless devices running on 2.4 GHz , such as cordless phones, Bluetooth, baby monitors, radio controlled toys, amateur radio, etc. and lots and lots of existing wireless networks. Far fewer devices currently use 5GHz.
  • The 2.4GHz has only three non-overlapping channels (channels 1, 6, & 11), compared to the 23 channels of the 5GHz band. Having more channels makes it easier to find a channel that is not used by anyone else in a user's area.

Range: Higher frequency (5GHz) radio waves lose more of their energy passing through walls, air etc. than lower frequency (2.4GHz) waves. This energy loss can be overcome by using more powerful radio transmitters, but this is not allowed under the laws governing the use of the radio spectrum for wireless networks. Therefore, 2.4GHz wireless networks will usually have a greater range than 5GHz networks.

Bandwidth (Speed): The major difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz is the speed of data transmission, also called bandwidth. Higher radio frequencies allow faster data transmission, so 5GHz allows much faster network connections than 2.4GHz. If you want to use high-bandwidth applications like streaming video, over your wireless network, 5GHz is by far the better choice.


If network speed is a top priority, 5GHz is a better choice than 2.4Ghz.

If wireless range is a top priority, 2.4GHz is usually a better choice than 5GHz.

If a local area has a lot of existing Wi-Fi devices causing interference on the 2.4GHz band, using 5GHz is a good solution.

Globalstar’s Wi-Fi Channel Does Not Have A Cleaner Frequency Than Other 2.4GHz Channels

Some Globalstar bulls claim that Globalstar’s Wi-Fi channel performs better than the others.  In an interview with Jim Cramer on Mad Money, Globalstar’s CEO James Monroe said:

“Wouldn’t you like to have access to a better Wi-Fi that’s private?”

Globalstar’s presentation slides don't necessarily indiciate that its Wi-Fi isn’t better from a frequency test. A lower frequency means less interference. Globalstar appears to have a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi channel with a normal frequency. Keep in mind, nobody is currently using the channel, so that would contribute to a slightly lower frequency.

On page 14 of Globalstar’s webinar presentation, it shows the channel’s frequency compared to the other three 2.4GHz channels.

What the slide shows, is a measurement of five minutes of the frequencies of the four 2.4GHz Wi-Fi channels. Channel 14 is Globalstar’s, and you can see looking at the far right that the top line’s frequency is lower than the other channels’ frequencies.

However, this is a little deceiving if one doesn’t know what each line measures.

The top line measures the highest observed frequency level within the five minute time frame, the middle line shows the average frequency observed within the five minutes, and the bottom line shows the lowest observed frequency within the five minutes. When looking at the middle line, the average frequency, there really isn’t much difference between the four channels.

The bottom line is virtually identical between the channels. Therefore, even with nobody using it, channel 14’s frequency still isn’t much better than the other channels. Globalstar didn’t explain what the different lines represent in the presentation.

Globalstar’s Channel Doesn’t Appear Advantageous

This research shows that Globalstar’s channel isn’t any better than free channels. It’s a slower 2.4GHz channel, with the about same frequency as other 2.4GHz channels. Therefore most people would have no incentive to pay for it over the standard free Wi-Fi.

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