Report: Amazon tested wireless network on Globalstar spectrum

Amazon has tested a new wireless network, on a spectrum owned by Globalstar, that would allow customers to connect their devices directly to the Internet, according to a report published by Bloomberg.

A spokesman for Globalstar, the Covington satellite phone company, would not comment on the report.

Globalstar has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to use its airwave spectrum license for mobile broadband Internet. By tapping the spectrum set aside for Globalstar in areas where satellite phone service isn’t needed — such as major U.S. cities and airports — the company has said it could increase Wi-Fi capacity in the U.S. by one-third immediately.

If the FCC allows Globalstar to create the new Wi-Fi channel, the company has said it would work with potential business partners to determine how to maximize the service while having the minimum impact on its satellite service.

Telecom, Media and Finance Associates Inc., a consulting and research firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., said in a blog posting that Globalstar’s spectrum could be worth at least $2 billion.

The value of that spectrum and the interest from Amazon is why Thermo Capital Partners of Denver agreed to invest $85 million more into Globalstar earlier this year, TMF Associates said.

The Bloomberg report said by offering its own Internet service, Amazon could offer a comprehensive experience that would include how customers get online, what devices they use to access the Web and what they do online.

Analysts told Bloomberg that Amazon is becoming a major player for watching movies and TV programs through its instant video service. Getting its own direct connection to the Internet would boost those efforts.

There has also been speculation the move would allow Amazon to enter the smartphone market by selling a low-cost phone and data plan. Amazon is reportedly interested in making smartphones.

The company has had success with its Kindle devices, which have been marketed as affordable alternatives to tablets such as the iPad.

Amazon competitors are also looking at becoming Internet gateways. Google has built high-speed, fiber-based broadband networks in 17 cities, including Austin, Texas, and recently agreed to provide wireless service at Starbucks coffee shops.