Globalstar Quality of Service Problems that Started in February 2007

PROBLEM:  In early 2007, Globalstar announced unexpected problems with their satellites. Evidently, the S-band satellite antenna power amplifier on the satellites had degraded and two-way voice and data services were impacted. Simplex services such as those used for some Globalstar-based locator systems, such as SPOT, were not severely affected.

SOLUTION:  Globalstar adjusted the configuration of its remaining functional satellites to cover the continental US.  This was done at the expense of parts of the coverage map, especially in the high north latitude, such as Alaska. Even in the areas that continued to have service, there was a significant increase in  dropped calls. The remaining satellites were farther apart so that path redundancy was often lost, too. This is the feature by which if line of sight between your Globalstar device and the Globalstar satellite is lost, the satphone simply switches to any other Globalstar satellite it can see so that your call is not interrupted.

SOLUTION #2:  Some Globalstar dealers such as Outfitter Satellite also offered trade-in promotions to help Globalstar customers switch to Iridium products.

SOLUTION #3:  Globalstar launched eight first generation, replacement satellites in 2007 to compensate for the degraded satellites.  Unfortunately, this was only a partial solution and had limited impact. Globalstar's second generation satellites are now expected to begin launching in the fall of 2009.  They expect to launch 4 satellites every 3 months until 24 additional second generation satellites are deployed. In principle, the 24 second generation and 8 first generation satellites (newly launched in 2007) would mean that there would be as many as 32 operational satellites.   If the launch schedule holds, noticeable improvement in quality of service would be expected by mid-2010.



Date 7/3/2009

Is the Globalstar trade in towards an Iridium still available? What is the cost?

Date 7/23/2009

Yes. There is a trade in offer for Globalstar phones towards the purchase of either the Iridium 9505A or 9555 that is valid until the end of 2009.


Date 9/14/2009

Since Globalstar is launching six birds at a time on Soyuz rockets the article is wrong. Launches are scheduled starting march/April 2010. The new Globalstar network will still have the simple ground to sat to ground relay architecture and will still not have global coverage like Iridium, which relays calls from satellite to satellite.

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