• Shares jump as agency prepares vote on mobile services
  • Company wants to make novel use of satellite frequencies

Globalstar Inc. moved closer to winning its years-long battle to offer mobile service on airwaves now reserved for satellite use, as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission asked the agency to vote for the company’s proposal.

Under FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s recommendation on Friday to four fellow commissioners, Globalstar could begin offering mobile broadband service, said an FCC official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter hasn’t been made public.

Globalstar wants to let mobile devices use its airwaves, now set aside for satellite service, and says the change could expand U.S. Wi-Fi capacity by one third, and improve service for millions of devices. The company may establish a total of 825 access points, or hot spots, for Wi-Fi devices in the first year, and the FCC will assess whether they cause interference to other services, said the official.

Globalstar rose as much as 46 percent as word emerged that Wheeler had called for a vote on the plan that the Covington, Louisiana-based company offered in 2012. Shares jumped again, as much as 35 percent, after the close of regular trading in New York, reaching as high as $3.30 in heavy volume.

Microsoft, Google

“We look forward to the commission adopting a final order” authorizing Globalstar’s proposal, Globalstar General Counsel L. Barbee Ponder said in an e-mailed statement.

Companies including Microsoft Corp. had opposed the move. Globalstar’s service has potential to cause poor functioning, including interruptions in service for “untold millions of devices, from gaming consoles to hearing aids,” the company told FCC officials during meetings in 2015. There’s “real, significant” potential for interference to Skype and gaming consoles and other devices that use the Bluetooth wireless technology, Microsoft said.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, in FCC filings, also cited the potential for interference to existing Wi-Fi devices.

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