Omnispace and Ligado to link spectrum for 5G by satellite

Omnispace and Ligado to link spectrum for 5G by satellite

Ram Viswanathan Omnispace.jpg

Two satellite companies, Omnispace and Ligado Networks, are planning to combine their spectrum for direct-to-device voice, text and data services.

They said their combination could provide mobile connectivity for “more than five billion mobile subscribers in areas where terrestrial cellular coverage does not exist today”.

Ram Viswanathan (pictured), president and CEO for Omnispace, said: “Together with Ligado, we will bring the spectrum and technology to deliver a game-changing solution directly from space to a variety of devices that could benefit billions of mobile subscribers worldwide.”

Omnispace has 60MHz of S-band satellite spectrum, which is satellite-speak for 2-4GHz. Ligado has 40MHz of L-band satellite spectrum, which is 1-2GHz, though this covers just the US and Canada.

Ligado is the successor company to a failed project called LightSquared that sought – with Nokia – to provide wholesale satellite spectrum for mobile services in the rural US. A number of companies, such as Centerbridge in 2013 and Dish Network in 2014, considered then withdrew from bids to buy LightSquared.

Ligado is chaired by Ivan Seidenberg, famous – when he was CEO of Verizon – for asking “Why would anyone use a cellphone in their home?” Its board includes Reed Hundt, who chaired the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 1993 to 1997.

Omnispace’s management team includes Jay Yass, who will speak at Capacity’s International Telecoms Week conference in May. Yass is chief corporate development and strategy officer.

Omnispace and Ligado said: “The combination would bring together for the first time the largest block of satellite spectrum dedicated to meeting a global market need for text, voice and data capability.” It is “already in compliance with existing international ITU [International Telecommunication Union] and US regulations”.

They said “the collaboration anticipates optimising multi-orbit geostationary (GEO) and non-geostationary (NGSO) networks to provide seamless, global coverage” for connecting consumer smartphone, automotive and internet of things (IoT) devices.

Viswanathan said: “In many ways, this spectrum combination is the last missing piece to unlocking the full promise and potential of direct-to-device connectivity and creates the necessary foundation for an exceptional voice, text and data experience.”

Doug Smith, president and CEO at Ligado Networks, said the initiative “has the potential to accelerate enhanced 5G non-terrestrial networks globally with coverage and bandwidth to support superior direct-to-device satellite connectivity”.

He added: “Together we are able to establish a premier, one-stop shop global footprint for ecosystem partners and global MNOs to offer premium services for billions of mobile subscribers worldwide.”



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