TerreStar Genus: A Satellite Phone You Can’t Afford to Love

AT&T today introduced the TerreStar Genus, a relatively thin $799 cellular smartphone that can use a satellite network for backup voice and data communications. The Genus gives a glimpse at future satellite phones: too expensive for consumers and a step behind the latest and greatest devices.

Satellite Cos. Pitch Their Spectrum to the FCC and Eventually Carriers

Napa_GW_from_West_2-13Nov08The FCC has had conversations with Qualcomm (s qcom) and Skyterra in the last few weeks about an effort to use a combination of satellites and a terrestrial network known as ATC (Ancillary Terrestrial Component), which could make 100 MHz of spectrum available for mobile broadband. Given that both the wireless industry and the FCC are unified in calling for more spectrum for mobile data services, the satellite companies are setting themselves up for a potential payday, but I still think it’s a sucker’s bet. Read More about Satellite Cos. Pitch Their Spectrum to the FCC and Eventually Carriers

TerreStar’s Upcoming Genus Smartphone: Too Slow to Be Genius

satellite-terrestrial-11-croppedAT&T (s t) today confirmed that it will sell the first dual-mode cellular and satellite smartphone that will offer satellite connectivity from TerreStar’s network when in remote areas. The Genus phone will be out in the first quarter of next year for business and government clients, although AT&T said it is working on such a device for consumers as well. However, before you get too excited, the idea of a satellite-powered smartphone sounds sweeter in theory than in practice. Read More about TerreStar’s Upcoming Genus Smartphone: Too Slow to Be Genius

Globalstar Gets Funding While TerreStar Launches Bird

launchholdGlobalstar (s gsat) today closed on $738 million in financing, while rival satellite operator TerreStar (s tstr) launched its new bird, TerreStar-1. Globalstar plans to use its money to fund operations and launch a new generation of satellites in 2010 that will deliver all IP-based voice and data to its customers through 2025. Before celebrating, know that Globalstar’s new constellation of satellites will  provide speeds of up to 256kbps down.

Like the slow data speeds, the financing is less exciting than it first appears. Read More about Globalstar Gets Funding While TerreStar Launches Bird

The Ominous Return of the Satellite Phone

satellite-terrestrial-11-croppedTerreStar (s tstr) expects to launch a satellite that costs some $500 million at the end of June, and with it, hopes to reinvent the failed satellite service model from the 90s. Even though TerreStar’s service will launch at the end of this year with normal-sized phones that also work on cellular networks, the likelihood of success doesn’t seem high. But in addition to offering better cell coverage, TerreStar is still pursuing partners to help it build out an alternative 4G wireless network. It hopes to create a combined satellite and terrestrial network using its spectrum holdings in the 2 GHz band under a regulatory scheme known as Ancillary Terrestrial Component, or ATC.

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Release Timeline for Snow Leopard Leaked

snowleopardIn case you were getting excited about Snow Leopard coming out anytime soon, or maybe holding off on a hardware purchase in anticipation of a WWDC ’09 release, you might be disappointed by the news that it likely won’t make it into the hands of consumers by that early June date. AppleInsider is reporting that the release schedule of the new Mac OS has many stages, the last of which won’t take place until two months after the Developer’s Conference.
What we will see June 8, if AppleInsider’s source is to be believed, is a major developer update to Snow Leopard that will be the first release to be “feature complete,” including all interface changes and functionality additions withheld from prior builds. In other words, they’ll be able to show off a product at WWDC that will look pretty much like what consumers will be getting two months later. Read More about Release Timeline for Snow Leopard Leaked

“Mapple” Lampoons the Cupertino Faithful on The Simpsons

Apple fans found their beloved company satirized Simpsons-style last night. The latest installment of the Fox cartoon featured a “Mapple” store in the beginning of the episode, a tech store where hip, young t-shirted employees take brand loyalty very seriously and display an inordinate amount of devotion to their bespectacled leader. Sound familiar?

The Mapple Store bears an uncanny resemblance to the 5th Avenue Apple Store, with the exception of being in Springfield’s Mall and not New York City. Lisa is amazed at the MyPods, MyPhones, and the Braniac Bar, where smug customer service representatives deal with Comic Book Guy’s complaints about the latest Mapple OS. Homer is intrigued by the dream-fueled, imagination-powered MyCube, whose function isn’t entirely clear, and which glows to show you that it’s not on.
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Qualcomm Marries Satellite and Cellular Networks

Qualcomm said today that it will build a chipset to offer combined cellular and satellite radios in one handset. It hopes to offer them in 2010. This is a boost for the struggling satellite companies and offers up the potential for a small phone that is integrated with existing CDMA cellular networks.

To build a successful satellite business a company needs access to spectrum, money to launch the satellites and a convenient handset at a reasonable price. During the ’90s this last hurdle was never really surmounted because handsets were big and couldn’t switch over to cell networks. It looked like that would be the case again for a new generation of satellite firms pushing a combined terrestrial and satellite network. Qualcomm’s chipsets and the willingness of cellular carriers to accept handoffs from satellite networks could change all that.

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