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Satellite Technology Feature Article

September 22, 2008

Wireless and Satellite Innovators Ink Technology Agreement

By Michelle Robart, TMCnet Editor


SkyTerra’s Mobile Satellite Ventures (News - Alert), ICO Global Communications, and Qualcomm today signed a technology agreement that will enable devices to have mobile communications coverage from anywhere in North America.
 
The new contract will also provide service to areas where traditional cellular service is currently unavailable or unreliable.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Qualcomm (News - Alert) will integrate satellite and cellular communication technology in select multi-mode mobile baseband chips, resulting in satellite connectivity in mass-market wireless handsets and devices.
 
This means that the same mobile chipsets forming the heart of handsets and other devices will allow handset vendors to produce satellite-capable devices at comparable scale and cost.
 
“This agreement marks a truly historic milestone in the evolution of the wireless industry,” stated Alex Good, chairman, CEO and president of SkyTerra. “For the first time, satellite communications can achieve economies of scale traditionally enjoyed in the cellular marketplace today. Combined with our powerful next-generation satellites, Qualcomm’s technology will enable mobile communications between terrestrial and satellite network layers using ordinary mobile devices.”
 
“One of the cornerstone features of ICO mim (mobile interactive media), and of all future ICO MSS ATC products, is satellite interactivity, and this agreement enables two-way satellite services for a wide variety of mainstream wireless devices,” said Tim Bryan, ICO’s chief executive officer. “Through our current contract with Qualcomm on satellite technology we have seen the depth of experience that they bring to this project. In addition, we look forward to working with our colleagues at MSV as we collaboratively develop this new technology.”
 
According to Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Qualcomm Americas and India, “Qualcomm’s satellite technology extends 3G to yet another dimension of wireless communications. Our work with MSV, ICO and other market innovators will enable innovative hybrid services and help pave the way for new uses of the mobile satellite bands.”
 
Qualcomm will also create a satellite protocol and include it in the firmware of select upcoming Qualcomm multi-mode baseband chips. Qualcomm will also support the L- and S-Band frequencies, in which MSV and ICO operate, in select RF processors.
 
The new chips are expected to be available beginning in 2010. Qualcomm will sell and support its hybrid mobile satellite services (MSS)/terrestrial chipsets to mobile device vendors in the same manner it does today. This will enable terminal OEMs to provide a full range of handhelds and mobile computing devices capable of terrestrial connectivity with 3GPP and 3GPP2 technologies across the L- and S-Bands, as well as a variety of existing mobile terrestrial bands.
 
“The integrated satellite-terrestrial market presents an exciting opportunity with more than 100 MHz of spectrum potentially addressable on a global basis,” added Good. “We anticipate that additional operators will take advantage of satellite data optimized technology as the systems evolve.”
 
In connection with entering into the agreement, subject to certain rights of termination, MSV and ICO have entered into a mutual non-assertion agreement with respect to relevant aspects of their respective patent portfolios as well as certain other related agreements to the Qualcomm development effort.
 
MSV delivers mobile wireless voice and data services primarily for public safety, security, fleet management and asset tracking in the U.S. and Canada. The company’s next-generation hybrid satellite-terrestrial communications network is expected to provide seamless, transparent and ubiquitous wireless coverage of the United States and Canada to conventional handsets. When completed, the network will support communications in a variety of market segments including public safety, homeland security, aviation, transportation and entertainment, by providing a platform for interoperable, user-friendly and feature-rich voice and high-speed data services.
 
ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited is a satellite communications company developing an advanced next-generation hybrid media system, combining both satellite and terrestrial communications capabilities. ICO G1 is capable of supporting wireless voice, data, and/or Internet services throughout the United States on mobile and portable devices. ICO is deploying a mobile interactive media service known as ICO mim. ICO mim will combine ICO’s unique interactive satellite capability with nationwide coverage to deliver a new level of navigation, enhanced roadside assistance and the ultimate
 
Qualcomm is an innovator in developing and delivering advanced digital wireless communications products and services based on CDMA and other advanced technologies.
 

Michelle Robart is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Michelle's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart



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