The U.S. Federal Communications Commission took an important step toward advancing ICO's proposal to bring broadband communications services to rural and underserved customers in the United States and around the world.
The FCC issued a "notice of proposed rulemaking," a necessary step toward modifying rules to allow mobile satellite service (MSS) operators in the 2 GHz band to re-use their own assigned frequencies terrestrially on an ancillary basis -- after their satellite systems are up and commercially operating. In March, ICO asked the FCC to make the change.
"We applaud the FCC for its swift action on this important issue," said Craig McCaw, who rescued ICO from bankruptcy proceedings in May 2000. "The outcome of this proceeding may determine whether citizens in rural parts of the U.S. and world receive access to broadband communications services. Our satellites are built and if the FCC gives our proposal the green light, we'll move forward aggressively to make the necessary final technical modifications to our satellites to begin service."
Unlike early-generation technology used by Iridium and Globalstar, ICO will use small terrestrial antennas, or "repeaters," to solve indoor coverage problems and to extend service availability to urban areas, which is critical to enabling MSS operators to be commercially viable. ICO intends to use Bluetooth technology in its palm-size repeaters, separating the bulky satellite antenna from the wireless device and enabling customers to use compact cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) both inside and outside buildings and in rural and urban areas.
Because of the benefits of a viable MSS network to unserved and underserved parts of the U.S. and world, ICO has received support from several influential U.S. senators, including Senators John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), as well as from former South Africa President Nelson Mandela.