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]

DVB-Scene

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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Sunday, December 23, 2007

iBiquity (HD Radio) Would Like to Impose Conditions

iBiquity Digital Corporation met with the FCC on December 19, 2007, to discuss the merger of XM and Sirius. Although iBiquity does not take a position on the merger, it is concerned that the combined entity will hinder its ability to introduce HD Radio in the marketplace. It is concerned over the exclusive arrangements that XM and Sirius have with the automobile manufacturers. It says XM and Sirius may have used subsidies and incentives with the OEMs to discourage the proliferation of HD Radio. A merged entity will have a "stronger economic position and more cash to fund subsidies and incentives".

As a remedy to the merger, iBiquity recommends that the Commission imposed the following two conditions:

1. Require that HD Radio be included in all satellite radio receivers.

2. Require tha tthe merged entity terminate all exclusive agreeements and to prohibit all such agreements with suppliers, retailers, and the OEMs.

iBiquity has generously agreed to license it patents on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and to make its technology available for inclusion in dual use receivers.

Satellite radio paid a small fortune to have the OEMs include satellite radio in automobiles. iBiquity appears to want a free ride. It would seem to be unfair to make this a requirement for satellite radio and would undermine satellite radio.

The satellite radio providers might welcome the second requirement.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Sirius Requests Experimental License to Test in WCS Bands

Now Sirius is requesting an experimental license to operate equipment in the WCS bands in order to research the impact of WCS transmission on satellite radio. The request is in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Docket pertaining the repeaters for satellite radio (95-91). Sirius is requesting expedited approval in light of the short commenting period.

Upon approval, Sirius intends to test at the six sites listed below:

1. Sirius Satellite Radio Facility, 989 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville, NJ, 08648
o 40-17-17.0 N, 74-42-33.5 W (10 km radius)

2. Prospertown Lake, Rt. 537, Ocean County, NJ
o 40-8-6.7 N, 74-27-30.0 W

3. Manasquan Reservoir, Windeler Road, Howell, NJ
o 40-10-16.6 N, 74-12-10.2 W

4. XM Satellite Radio Facility, 3161 SW 10th St, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
o 26-18-15.2 N, 80-8-47.6 W (5 km radius)

5. 24 Vernon Crossing Road, Vernon, NJ
o 74-29-37.2W, 41-12-46.7N

6. Highway US441, Palm Beach County, FL (10 km radius)
o 26-42-36.0 N, 80-25-12.0 W

Frequency Bands: 2305-2320 MHz: 2345-2360 MHz

Tests will be conducted in 5 MHz channels of the WCS A, B, C and D blocks

Each test channel is 5 MHz wide. Specifically the channelization is:

A: 2305-2310 MHz, 2350-2355 MHz
B: 2310-2315 MHz, 2355-2360 MHz
C: 2315-2320 MHz
D: 2345-2350 MHz

In case any of you missed it, you can find the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

OT: Microwaving Oranges

We came across this interesting experimental application the other day. Raytheon and Paramount Citrus are teaming together to test Raytheon's Tempwave™ frost protection system for citrus crops. The system is intended to prevent freeze damage to crops by delivering low intensity microwave heating to make up any net heat lost during a freeze event. Paramount Citrus will provide the test crop and power for at its location in Vasaila, CA.

Raytheon intends to market its system for the 2008-2009 season. It occurred to Raytheon last month that it needed to prove the system this season before marketing it next season.

The test setup is described as follows:

The test setup will consist of 4 towers at the corners of a 30 meter x 30 meter area within the orchard. Each tower is 10 meters tall and will have 4 identical transmitter/antenna combinations at the top. (There will be a total of 16 identical antennas/transmitters.) See figure 1 attached. The antennas are arranged, and the antenna patterns designed to uniformly illuminate the orchard and supply energy lost by the crop. The system should deliver energy directly to the crop during a freeze.

Our research shows that the crop needs small but steady energy input during a frost night. An analysis predicts an RF power density of 1.8 mW/cm2 at the tree tops within the test area. Tests inside a shielded will be performed assess various parameters of the equipment/configuration in preparation of the outdoor field test.

If successful, it could be good news to the citrus farmers.

Test will be conducted between January 10, 2008 and April 30, 2008. It should be far away enough in frequency (2.45 GHz) to not interfere with satellite radio.

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Copyright Judges Publish Determination of Rates and Terms Document

In their determination of rates and terms for royalty rates to be paid by satellite radio, the Copyright Judges go into detail of how their predecessor (CARP) determined the rates versus how they approached it. The document goes into the gory detailed of the various proposals and why they were not appropriate before determining that the best approach for approximately usage was revenue based, rather than a "per play" as proposed by Satellite Radio or the "per broadcast/per subscriber" as proposed by SoundExchange.

It is a very enlightening and fascinating read into the process used by the judges as well as the history behind the determination of rates. It is well worth the read. There are many nuggets of information to be garnered such as the following:

For example, EBITDA profitability for Sirius is estimated by Mr. Karmazin to be consistent with revenues generated from between 10 million and 11 million subscribers. 6/7/07 Tr. 35 (Karmazin). Increasing the current royalty rates to 13% will increase costs and raise the necessary critical mass of subscribers sufficient to generate revenues that can yield EBITDA profitability or even positive free cash flow.

We suggest that you download the following document and sit down for a nice long read:

Determination of Rates and Terms for Preexisting Satellite Digital Audio Radio Services

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Comcast Seeks Experimental License to Test WiMax

Back in April, Satellite Radio TechWorld reported that Horizon Wi-Com had filed for an experimental license to test WiMax equipment operating outside of the approved operating range and near the satellite radio band. XM and Sirius expressed their concerns over this testing. This application is still pending.

Today, Comcast WCS filed a similar application to test mobile and fixed equipment in the A, B, and C blocks of the wcs spectrum in Muncie, Indiana. These blocks are are either side of the satellite radio band. This worldwide "standard production equipment" for WiMax is not approved for the wcs band by the FCC and may exceed the limits imposed on the wcs band during normal operation.

Comcast seeks to test the equipment up to 2,000 W EiRP average. The wcs band is currently limited to peak power. Readers may recall how the WCS Coalition vehemently opposed any satellite radio reader operating at over 2,000 W EiRP peak. Satellite radio won that battle at least until final rules regarding repeaters are established.

Emphasis will be on not interfering with satellite radio. Testing will seek to determine to maximum operating range that will not interfere with satellite radio.

No doubt this testing needs to be done, but not in a vacuum. It needs to be closely coordinated with the satellite radio providers. Look for XM and Sirius to express concern over this application as well.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

XM to Locate Employees in Vienna

In an application filed by XM today, XM is requesting special temporary authority to operate a very low powered repeater in a building at 2650 Park Tower Drive, Vienna, Virginia. In the application, XM describes the building as a "large one". XM employees will occupy two floors and part of a third floor. "Many employees that XM intends to locate at the 2650 Building are part of XM's Listener Care team, who will be directly involved in the resolution of subscriber complaints." They, of course, will need access to a high quality signal at their desks. That is the purpose of this request.

It is an interesting application for two reasons. It sounds like they will be locating a fairly large number of employees there. Only "many", not all, are part of the Listener Care team. Some Something's up here. We need to find what else is located in this building to know the whole picture.

The second aspect of it is the XM is apparently trying to take greater control over the Li sterner Care group. Anybody that has ever contacted XM's Li sterner Cares knows that it can use some improvement, and that is an understatement. This is a welcomed change.

Update December 23, 2007: The WCS Coalition has objected to this application of a low powered repeater. It seems that the Coalition is back to its old tricks of making it as difficult as possible to carry on business for the satellite radio providers. Ostensibly, the Coalition objects to the application because XM is not clear how the repeater will work, saying that it fears XM will employ a new type of repeater that will amplify and rebroadcast the WCS signals, which could cause oscillations.

XM describes the repeater as a new, very low powered repeater. Rather than receiving its signal from a terrestrial repeater, this mini-repeater will receive its signal directly from an XM satellite. This mini-repeater would not radiate at all. It would transmit its signal via a coax cable to one or more very low powered, omni-directional repeaters (not exceeding 0.5 Watt, presumably located within the building). XM states that it will operate within its own band. The only WCS operator in the area is Horizon Wi-Com. Readers may recall that XM and Sirius objected to testing by Horizon Wi-Com of WCS equipment that operates outside of the approved operating parameters for the WCS band. Perhaps there is a connection.

The Coalition has all the technical specifications on the operation of the amplifier and is being disingenous, in our humble opinion, with its objections. The repeater clearly operates within the approved operating parameters. Perhaps the Coalition has reverted to such tactics as a bargaining chip in current rulemaking on satellite radio repeaters and the coexistence of satellite radio and the WCS licensees.

Update January 08, 2008: After XM modified its application to include more detail, the WCS Coalition conditionally withdrew its objections.

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Snapster Saga Over--Rasprodz Prevails

An anonymous tipster tipped us off today that Napster, in a surprise move, withdrew its opposition to the Snapster trademark application filed by Rasprodz. The US Trademark Office has yet to accept officially accept it, but there is no reason to believe that it won't.

No reason was given by Napster. It simply said:

Napster, LLC by and through their attorneys, hereby stipulates that the above-identified opposition proceeding be dismissed. December 4, 2007

Quite possibly the two parties reached an agreement or perhaps Napster simply gave up or thought they could not win it. It appeared to us that Napster had the better argument.

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Sirius Receives Grant to Operate Repeater at Yamaha Dealer Event

Sirius received a grant from the FCC to operate a low powered repeater (200W) and two signal boosters at the Yamaha Dealer Event at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Sirius will conduct equipment and service demonstrations at the CES between January 05-10, 2008.


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Rego, the Radio that Just Won't Die

The Rego, a Sirius Satellite radio and MP3 player by US Electronics (USE), was revived for the third time recently when US Trademark Office breathed life once again into USE's trademark application. Readers my recall that USE is in a pitched battle with XM and Sirius over the merger after USE lost its court case against Sirius. It is unlikely that we will ever see the Rego as a satellite radio, unless USE receives concessions as part of the merger.

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Sirius Submits Application for 15 New Repeater

Sirius applies to install yet 15 more repeaters, all of them 2,000 Watt EiRP average. Sirius shouldn't have any problems getting approval, so if you live in any of the areas below, Merry Christmas:

3420 Ellicott Center Drive,
Ellicott City, MD 21043

1603 Orrington Ave.
Evanston, IL

1710 Cleneay Avenue,
Cincinnati, OH 45212

1115 Old Dixie Hwy, West
Palm Beach, FL 33403

60-52 Madison Street,
Queens, NY 11385

24 River Rd., Bogota,
NJ 07603

201 Willowbrook Blvd,
Wayne, NJ 07470

5627 Germantown Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19144

811 East Cayuga Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19124

3331 Bristol Pike,
Bensalem, PA 19020

5831 Rosebud,
Sacramento, CA 95841

8780 Jackson Road,
Sacramento, CA 95826

3425 51st Avenue,
Sacramento, CA 95823

5321 1st Street NE,
Washington, DC 20011

9701 Fields Road,
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Check out the link for topographical and aerial views of the repeater locations as well as the GPS coordinates.

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