Amazon (AMZN), using spectrum controlled by satellite telecom provider Globalstar, has piloted a new wireless network perhaps for customers using its mobile devices to connect to the Internet, according to a Bloomberg report. If the truly happened, are there implications for channel partners in the mobile and cloud worlds?
The experiment, which was conducted in Cupertino, Calif., follows on similar Google (GOOG) projects to build out high speed, fiber broadband networks in a number of cities in the U.S., bidding for wireless spectrum and the opportunity to present itself as a web gateway.
Now, Amazon may be looking for another avenue to LTE 4G and 3G cellular networks, perhaps ultimately offering inexpensive data access on its own devices such as the Kindle Fire HD tablet while foregoing deals with carriers.
According to a VentureBeat Mobile report, Globalstar is trying to get 80 percent of its spectrum approved for its Terrestrial Low Power Service (TLPS), a service faster than Wi-Fi with broader coverage requiring only a firmware upgrade to be accessible by most Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Sources cited in the Bloomberg report said the Amazon wireless network test took place near Amazon’s Lab126 research center in Cupertino. It is not known if the testing activity is ongoing. Amazon’s Lab126 reportedly is responsible for engineering and designing the Kindle devices. Amazon may be testing a wireless network not only for its Kindle tablet, which has built-in wireless capabilities, but also for a long-rumored smartphone.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has yet to rule on Globalstar’s request from last November to convert its satellite spectrum for Wi-Fi type services, recently issued a permit to Jarvinian Wireless Innovation Fund, Globalstar’s technical advisor, to test wireless equipment on the service provider’s spectrum. Bloomberg reported that Jarvinian, in a letter to the FCC dated July 1, disclosed the company is assisting a “major technology company assess the significant performance benefits” of Globalstar’s spectrum.
Should Globalstar gain the FCC’s nod of approval, the company could lease its spectrum, tapping into interest from carriers, cable companies and even IT heavyweights such as Amazon wanting or needing to discharge some mobile traffic, the report said.