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Originally posted on Gigaom:
Bloomberg reported on mysterious network trials Amazon(s amzn) had conducted with satellite communications provider Globalstar(s gsat). But the details of Amazon’s wireless tests are actually pretty plain: it’s investigating a form of Wi-Fi that uses dedicated licensed spectrum to connect to devices, rather than the open unlicensed bands used by our routers, laptops, tablets and smartphones today.
The technology is called terrestrial low-power service (TLPS), and satellite communications analyst and frequent GigaOM contributor Tim Farrar uncovered the details of the tests last month in his blog. Here’s the basic rundown.
- Globalstar is trying to repurpose its satellite spectrum for terrestrial use, just like LightSquared and Dish Network(s dish) have attempted with their own satellite airwaves. One of the technologies Globalstar is investigating is TLPS, and it has received an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission to test it.
- Globalstar is working with wireless research and investment group Jarvinian to trial TLPS in the real world. Jarvinian in turn brought in Wi-Fi access point maker Ruckus Wireless(s rkus) to build TLPS compatible equipment (they even put out a press release).
- Jarvinian has said it is also working with a “major technology company” to test the benefits of TLPS for wide-scale consumer broadband use. Jarvinian has never named the company, but in its FCC filings it identifies three Silicon Valley locations, all of them addresses for Amazon’s research arm Lab126.
I suppose you could call all of this coincidence, but I highly doubt Amazon is letting Jarvinian, Ruckus and Globalstar into its secretive labs to conduct tests for the benefit of a rival.