Tag Archives: Globalstar

The TLPS Graphic That Says It All

Riddle me this: When is 33% not 33%? (I realize that this is fertile ground for politician jokes…) Let me put you out of your misery- 33% is actually 3.6% in at least one case.

Got it? Of course you don’t. because I’m only telling you what I think is convenient to my agenda. Which brings us to our friends from Globogym that are pushing that futuristic WLAN snake-oil called TLPS. Not ringing familiar? Don’t run off yet- the math lesson is coming quick, and is of consequence to anyone in Wi-FI. It’s another case of the telling of only part of the story.

(Quick backstory links if you want to learn about TLPS are here and here, and lots of other places on the web.)

Read up on it. Get educated on both “sides” of the issue. Delight in the fervent idiocy of this crowd who generally exhibits gross misunderstanding of WLAN technology while thumping their chests and worshiping the Globoknob CEO. Then let’s get to what really irks me about how TLPS is being packaged- that 33.3% thing.


Globofool keeps touting that we’ll see 33% increase in available Wi-Fi capacity in the US by letting them do really weird, proprietary things with channel 14 in the 2.4 GHz ISM band used by unlicensed Wi-Fi. Simple arithmetic, right?… add a channel to where there are only three usable, and you gain 1/3 capacity. That’s a tasty sound bite. And…This might work in some other United States where dual-band APs don’t exist and where there is no 5 GHz Wi-Fi.

But I’m here to tell you that the ‘Merica I love has got 25 glorious channels in 5 GHz, and enterprise/stadium/school WLAN networks use them extensively, along with the few channels that are in 2.4 GHz. Whoopsie… looks like 33% is based on a half-truth.

Here’s what the reality of the potential benefits of TLPS looks like to the grown-ups who actually do Wi-Fi for a living:


(This comes from a Greg Gerst ex parte found here on the FCC’s site.)

Why is Globalstar not showing 5 GHz in their sales pitches? Have they not heard of a little thing called 802.11ac? Or 11n? Do they live in a different United States?

The list of things to debate about TLPS is long and nuanced, hence so many filings by so many parties (and they are worth reading). But one thing is NOT debatable, and that is the fact that Globalsnicker is being less than forthcoming with their math, by my reckoning. Two problems that I see:

  • It turns out, when you add 1 channel to 28 others, you actually get 29 channels- not 4! And when you apply Common Core maths to that, 1 channel equals 3.6% of those 29! (actually it’s 3.5% on my TI-60 calculator). Hmmmm.
  • Now let’s pause to  take a hit of what Globowonk is puffing… mmm, that’s good. Now play the game, and pretend for a minute that there WAS no 5 GHz. Buy into the lie for this one. If I add 1 non-overlapping channel to the  3 current in 2.4 GHz- I DO NOT GET 33% MORE  Wi-Fi CAPACITY IN THE UNITED STATES. I only see the gain in Globowack networks, because only THEY would be allowed to use that channel 14 (if I missed any news about possible licensing to other vendors, I’ll gladly eat a portion of my words). So “in the United States”, even 3.6% is a moonshot. Unless there’s maybe another United States somewhere?

Denying that 5 GHz exists “in the United States” and conveneniently leaving out the fact that it is used doesn’t make it not exist. And that same denial doesn’t negate the fact that 5 GHz carries significant amounts of Wi-Fi clients in business and residential WLAN environments alike. It doesn’t add up, and the Gerst graphic nails it.

As my imaginary grand-pappy Enos McBadman used to say “if they’re blowing smoke about this, what else are they not being upfront about?”



Did TLPS Just Publicly Become a Ruckus-Only Show?

I’ll try to to keep it brief. On the heels of this recent blog regarding information I found on the FCC’s web site in relation to TLPS, Globalstar has put out their own new ex parte filing that concedes/admits/declares (?) that “These deployments are utilizing prototype TLPS access points manufactured by Ruckus and client devices from HTC, Microsoft, and Apple that were upgraded to operate on Channel 14 or were able to operate on Channel 14 “out of the box” with no changes necessary. ”

Curiously, Ruckus themselves continues to maintain radio silence on TLPS.  But, this filing seemingly does explain the missing filters that Greg Gerst called out after the very limited demonstration that was done at the FCC facilities a few months back.

I guess now the spectators are left to wonder if the FCC somehow knew about the modified access points despite no prior obvious mention of “prototype” hardware while high profile stakeholders like Gerst had to sleuth out their use, and if so why the lack of transparency here.  Regardless, this does show that TLPS is now implied to be a Globalstar/Ruckus endeavor based on the new type of Ruckus hardware, and will not use unmodified off-the shelf access points (or any of the millions of APs by a slew of vendors already installed across the US). Let that rattle around in your craw a bit, as there are lots of implications there.

Why Globalstar is just trickling this out now is curious, and seems to be in response to Gerst’s raising of the filter issue. With all of the scrutiny that has been afoot throughout the TLPS Big Adventure, you’d think Globalstar would get it all out there in the daylight to quiet the naysayers. But even in this last filing, we’re left to wonder what specific device models fall under client devices from HTC, Microsoft, and Apple that were upgraded to operate on Channel 14 or were able to operate on Channel 14 “out of the box” with no changes necessary.  Were these all smartphones? A mix of LTE devices and not? There’s no way to know based on the filing, and we’re all way past “just trust us, it was a legit test” by now. It’s time for the utmost of transparency in any future demonstrations, with full disclosure for the many eyes that are watching from afar.

Finally, it’s still utterly warped that Globalstar continues to prattle on about TLPS being the savior of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi while utterly discounting or simply ignoring the importance of 5 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi.  802.11ac sales are skyrocketing, and it’s a 5 GHz-only technology. I’ve said it before- ANY spectrum has value, but when you properly include 5 GHz in the Wi-Fi conversation, TLPS claims of 33% of this or 40% of that drastically reduce themselves to something much, much less. In this regard, facts are being distorted by omission, says I.



Could Missing Filters and a Potential Conflict of Interest at the FCC Mean A Bad Deal for Wi-Fi? Another TLPS Blog

Wowsers. If you’re in the WLAN world in any capacity, you’ve likely at least heard  of TLPS. Short for terrestrial low power service, TLPS is a crazily over-hyped twinkle in satellite communications company Globalstar’s eye. The satcomm company is lobbying hard for the FCC to approve it’s very  weird offering, while a range of groups and individuals who actually understand and work with real-world WLAN technologies that would be negatively impacted by TLPS try to bring sound technical counter-arguments to the FCC’s attention. If you need some refresher material, here are past articles I’ve written on TLPS:

Then there’s skepticism by Devin Akin, Kerrisdale Capitol, and Kerrisdale again, and lots of others including the Wi-Fi Alliance the Bluetooth SIG, Microsoft, and Google.

Here’s where anyone pro-TLPS says “So what? Globalstar has it’s own army of supporters.” The problem is, many of them are stark-raving nuts, with little technical acumen, high hopes for getting rich off of TLPS, and a penchant for conspiracy theories about why the FCC hasn’t approved this steaming bundle of joy yet.


Then there’s Greg Gerst. He too would like to make a lot of money off of TLPS, by having it NOT be approved. Gerst is a CFA at Gerst Capitol who has taken a most public short position on Globalstar, but he also happens to be an experienced Cornell-educated BSEE with a decent technical resume in digital communications technology. I don’t know Gerst. I can’t tell you whether he’s a good human being or not, but I do know he has posted impressive ex parte filings stating his case in engineering terms that validate and expand what many of us fear about TLPS.

Gerst is calling out some pretty specific and really disturbing things. If he’s wrong, time will prove him to be a laughingstock. If he’s right, however, then absolute shady dealings are afoot in the offices of the FCC when it comes to The Demonstration (mentioned above in the Network Computing article). And to boot, a potential conflict of interest by one FCC committee member adds an odd shadow to what’s already pretty weird ground.

Globalstar conducted a limited demonstration of their TLPS technology at the FCC’s offices using Ruckus Wireless access points. (To date, I’ve read nowhere that TLPS has been demonstrated with any other brand of AP.) There is a lot of opinion about the validity and results of the rather brief demonstration, but Gerst throws a zinger here, where he claims in his 5/14/15 filing that Globalstar used MODIFIED Ruckus access points while leading the FCC to believe that the test gear was commercially available off the shelf. A screen grab from the filing (it’s an interesting read regardless of how you feel about TLPS):

gerst 1

Gerst reiterates his opinion about the missing filters equaling deceptive testing in a 7/16/15 filing that also calls into question the judgement of one of the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council Members (the chairman, I think) when it comes to TLPS, as he also happens to be a paid consultant working for Globalstar. From the filing:

Regarding the final quote above, it is ironic that Globalstar’s paid lobbyist, Blair Levin, refers to “sound engineering” when a straightforward engineering analysis clearly raises doubts that TLPS will be “compatible with existing services”. More ironic is Dennis Roberson’s involvement as Globalstar’s paid consultant in this proceeding while chairing the Commission’s Technical Advisory Council (TAC)12. In April, the TAC produced an excellent paper entitled “A Quick Introduction to Risk-Informed Interference Assessment” 13. According to the executive summary, “This short paper proposes the use of quantitative risk analysis to assess the harm that may be caused by changes in radio service rules.” In his capacity as a paid consultant to Globalstar Mr. Roberson would have the Commission rely on the fact that TLPS had no “qualitative impact” 14 on Bluetooth, while ignoring the quantitative negative impact proven by the Bluetooth SIG report1.

That feels weird from where I sit, but then again Washington is a place where millionaires claim to be po’ folk and no one bats an eye, a certain Chief Exec never had sex with the woman he had sex with, and pretty much anything goes as long as it’s done “for the children”. I won’t even pretend to know what’s OK with lobbying rules, but Gerst’s point about Mr. Roberson would equal a conflict of interest in my own world, if Mr. Roberson’s committee has any sway in whether TLPS gets accepted (provided Gerst is representing the relationship between Globalstar and Roberson properly).

Like everything regarding TLPS, it will be interesting to see where this all goes.

Thank Goodness 5 GHz Is Done For American Wi-Fi

When you think about it, the whole 5 GHz thing has been a complete pain in the backside since it came to the Wi-Fi world. Sure, the 802.11a technology worked in cleaner spectrum than 11b and g back in the day- but it was so complicated. We all had to learn some new numbers and acronyms, and that in itself really sucked.  Sometimes 5 GHz rubber ducky antennas were flat or squarish instead of round. It was pretty over-the-top. But looking back, it got worse… MUCH worse.

With 802.11n and 11ac, utter craziness set in. They were doing this “wide channel” thing, and the 2.4 GHz band started losing users. Clients were getting faster speeds and better overall Wi-Fi experience in that ridiculous 5 GHz band. What is THAT? Like seriously- common clients had the gall to adapt to 5 GHz… And the WLAN vendors! Holy crow, those idiots out in the Silicon Valley actually made dual-band access points! What in the name of all things decent and technically prudent were they thinking?

And then there’s Apple. Just shut up about Apple and all of the kick-ass 5 GHz radio hardware they like to use. You can see where all of this is going… some pencil-necks at the IEEE got a wild hair, this 5 GHz debacle gained traction, and a bunch of users and industry muckety-mucks thought life was better with 5 GHz and dense deployments than when range-oriented 2.4 GHz was king.  Idiots…

Just in time, Globalstar has come along to save us from ourselves and our 5 GHz delusions. With keen analysis and the assistance of hyper-astute experts backing the company up, Globalstar has rightly put the ignorant masses in their place when it comes to the silly notion that 5 GHz has any relevance on the American Wi-Fi landscape. Thankfully, the satellite company has prevailed, and is convincing an equally astute media that their seemingly wankerish channel 14 TLPS juju truly is the Holy Grail of Wi-Fi Goodness for data starved Americans. Forget about all of those confusing channels in 5 GHz- THEY DON’T EXIST. Those channels and all of that speed and spectral cleanliness are dead to us. Which makes the TLPS thing that much more sexy.

Back to where we started- between what’s there now and what’s coming, there are freakin’ dozens of channels and a couple hundred confusing MHz in that pesky 5 GHz spectrum. We just don’t need the complexity, and Globalstar is smart to bring us back to like 1993, when things were so much simpler. By spinning it right, we simply disregard 5 GHz! That leads us to the payoff of TLPS:

Full article

Full Article

Forget for a moment that IF 5 GHz was still relevant, Globalstar’s single-channel 14 TLPS play would add some spit in the bucket to TRUE “US Wi-Fi Capacity”.  Those days are evidently behind us, because I read it on the Internet and in Globalstar’s pitch for TLPS approval. The simple elegance of this mindset is easy to appreciate.

I had three channels. Now I got another. Boom! I just added 33%. High fives!

You just have to discipline yourself to forget that 5 GHz exists. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out how to tell 65% or better of my thousands of  users (those misguided souls on 5 GHz) that they aren’t using “US Wi-Fi”.

And that’s just un-American.

Some Gimmicks Get A Lot Further Than They Should

Man oh man, people can come up with really goofy shit sometimes when it comes to technology, wild claims, and the quest for big dollars. Let me give you two examples that will make your head spin a bit, especially if you know anything about wireless networking.

Bizarre Gimmick #1: LightSquared

We don’t really need all those GPS satellites to work, do we? This article I wrote for Network Computing in 2012 tells the tale of technical lunacy that, thankfully, seems to have failed hard. But it’s important to get familiar with LightSquared because the same FCC that let it gain far more traction than common sense dictates it should have is now considering another gazillion-dollar steaming pile of foolishness- which brings us to….

Bizarre Gimmick #2: TLPS (from the fine folks at Globalstar)

Just so all you misguided idiots out there doing WLAN for a living know: 5 GHz isn’t very good for Wi-Fi. The great hope lies with channel 14 in the 2.4 GHz band.

uh, right. Gimme some of what yer tokin’ there, Globalstar.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

I thought Kerrisdale Capital did a pretty good job making the case for why TLPS is a pie-in-the-sky wet dream, and put together a number of good, reasonably accurate summaries on contemporary wireless technology, like this one.

But Globalstar and friends are sticking to the premise that Kerrisdale, wireless experts, and pretty much the entire WLAN industry is clueless. (Hello, black kettle, said the pot.)

How long can Globalstar cling to it’s weird strategy when Wi-Fi industry bigwigs of impeccable credibility like Devin Akin also publicly voice crystal-clear skepticism about TLPS?

We’ll have to see where this one goes. But in a perfect world, the FCC would get a better handle early on when it comes to differentiating viable innovationfrom make-a-few-people-wealthy gimmickry.