Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New ICO Having a COW

This is a followup to the post on Orbitcast about New ICO. ICO satellite services, one of the parent companies of New ICO, was granted an experimental license to demo the potential of its ATC (Ancillary Terrestrial Component) capabilities at the January 7-11, 2008 Consumer Electronics Show. Essentially, this is the repeater system it intends to deploy with its satellite services. It should be noted that New ICO has neither a satellite in operation nor an ATC network. It intends to use "cellsite-on-wheels (COW) to simulate a terrestrial repeater site at locations around the site of the Convention Center and other CES venues." From its press release, New ICO states that it will launch its satellite in March. This is likely news to the FCC. New ICO has delayed the launch numerous times; however, it is indeed close to being able to launch. Previously, New ICO was granted another extension to launch by November 30, 2007 and to have the satellite in operation by the end of the year (December 31, 2007). That's not going to happen. On August 06, 2007, New ICO filed an application with the FCC for yet another extension to launch by January 15, 2008 and be in operation by February 15, 2008. It has already submitted a letter to the FCC as part of that application stated that launch will likely be delayed a few weeks beyond January 15, 2008. In light of this further delay, New ICO requested that the FCC extend the comment date until October 15, 2007. New ICO is already beyond the November 30, 2007 launch date as authorized by the FCC. The International Bureau has not granted any further extensions to date. The status is "Accepted for filing".

No one has opposed the current extension request; however, Inmarsat Global vehemently opposed the previous extension and filed a Petition to Deny. In its petition, Inmarsat painstakingly details the troubled history of New ICO and its repeated delays. Inmarsat will likely bring this up once again.

On November 30, 2007, New ICO filed for authority to operate its ATC. To date, the application has not even been accepted for filing, hence the experimental license to use COWs to demonstrate its ATC services. In an experimental application granted by the FCC, New ICO states that the ATC (repeater) deployment will begin no later than early 2009.

New ICO may ultimately be competition for satellite radio, but will likely be well into 2008 at the earliest and probably won't be until well into 2009.
It is not a sure thing that New ICO will ever get its satellite off the ground. At some point, the Commission has got to say, "enough is enough".

ICO does have one medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite in operation. It is a leftover from its early plans to launch a constellation of these satellites. It launched two. One launched failed to put the satellite in the proper orbit. Today, one operational satellite in not in use, as we understand it; however, ICO still has plans to use it as part of an MSS system in Europe. Presently, ICO is battling the EU over the MSS band. ICO has over $4 billion invested in its effort to bring MSS into operation. They have struggled and likely will continue to struggle. TerraStar is the only MSS competitor in the US. It has been very supportive of New ICO's effort to bring its system online.

ICO to demo live Satellite Video at CES [Orbitcast]

Further Reading:

ICO Wants Its Mobile TV - via DVB-SH [Daily Wireless]


Update: After a little more research, it was discovered that New ICO had applied to extend the launch date until April 15, 2008 and the operational date until May 15, 2008. That is more consistent with its press release indicating a launch in March. The extra 15 days allows some uncertainty in the launch date. This application, filed in early November, 2007, has been accepted for filing but New ICO has not been granted authority to extend the launch milestone. New ICO is likely concerned that neither this application to extend the launch date nor the previous one file in August has been granted. However, no entity has opposed the extension.

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