back to article Ofcom to finally yank sat broadband biz off the air

Ofcom has written to the International Telecommunications Union asking it to rescind the spectrum allocation to ICO Satellite after the company's 32-month campaign failed. ICO had appealed against the courts' refusal to grant a judicial review of Ofcom's original decision to write the letter, which the regulator wanted to send …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    It's sad, but no other company I know deserve it more. I worked at ICO for a couple of years as a contractor, leaving it just before they ran short of money and started to dump staff. I must say I've never seen another a company spend so much money to so little effect, although there are one or two who come very close.

    1. Geoff Campbell


      Just the fact of taking on contractors for two year stints is a good demonstration of what you say, I suspect. Why do companies do that?

      (I write as a contractor and consultant of twenty years, I should say. But I rarely stay in one organisation for more than a couple of months at a time.)


  2. Alvar
    Thumb Down

    Oh great

    Just what the world needs - another patent troll.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So they seem to have spent more money on lawyers & litigation than building sataelites

    But note the case against Boeing (which ICO won) found "Boeing guilty of fraud, tortious interference and breach of contract."

    The lessons of the constellation satellite network seem to be starting to crystallize.

    1) Make sure you've got a market

    2) Don't have huge management boards (Iridium)

    3) Make sure the terminals can work indoors.

    4) Launch early. *If* you can get a revenue stream you can show a market exists and keep funding more work (preferable) or more lawyers (if necessary).

    I'll note that Orbcomm, whose network was IIRC the *least* capable of the 1st generation commmercial sat comms networks, seems to be the only one still operating *globally* on a commercial basis given Iridium seems to be entirely leased to the US Govt.

  4. Steve the Cynic


    So they couldn't make being a sat broadband provider work (seriously, who wants a minimum round trip ping time of 500ms?). OK, that's sad, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Not all businesses succeed.

    Does that really make it a good idea to reinvent themselves as patent trolls?

    1. Blofeld's Cat


      >who wants a minimum round trip ping time of 500ms?

      Someone who needs an Internet connection where there is no alternative, such as the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In such a location even a slow connection is useful, and can be priced accordingly.

      1. Ben Morgan


        Or people who live in remote areas where getting copper cables to them would be either prohibitively expensive or impossible.

  5. TonyHoyle

    Oh great

    "a leading partner in providing corporate IP and litigation"

    Another failing company becomes a patent troll. That's all we need...

  6. Mike Smith

    Quick! Dr van Helsing, quick!

    "ICO renamed itself Pendrell and acquired Ovidian - "a leading partner in providing corporate IP and litigation", with a view to "establish a new ‘gold standard’ in IP for the world’s leading technology companies"

    Now that Sun's gone down, it looks like SCO's pushing the lid off the box. Anyone got a hammer and stake?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a tricky business - Iridium seem to have an ageing network that may be past it's sell by date - Inmarsat probably have the best 'global' data network.

    Just not sure how many people want satellite broadband to their homes / offices when terrestial offerings are getting better (i.e. 3G / 4G / LTE / wifi etc.) and xDSL technologies and fibre are being rolled out further and further.

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Nice in theory....

      Lots of wonderful technologies coming through, but how many will get deployed and where is dependent on government bureaucracy and whether the providers deem it economically viable. There are some glaring examples of urban/sub-urban black holes of coverage that are 'uneconomical to in-fill', while rural areas get services (often through government subsidy).

      It's sad to think that these 'black holes' might actually be limited to a satellite service for bandwidth, even if the latency is horrendous.

  8. Andrew Jones 2

    So.... what about TwoWay that suddenly jumped into all the advertising breaks on the TV over the weekend - I ended up visiting their website just to see if they really were as good as they proclaim.....

    Given the choice of using "patchy 3G" (their words) or -

    pay - £89.99 a month for 10mb down / 4mb up with a cap of 25GB

    plus - £199.99 for the equipment

    plus - £99.99 for the install -

    I'll take 3G ta :)

    (and before anyone says anything about only being able to get 3G in cities - I'm in the Scottish Borders - there are maybe 300 houses in this village - but we get Three here with no problems - indeed large amounts of the Scottish Borders do.... and in this village at least - they are the only network with 3G. In terms of connection and latency - it beats my business broadband 8mb connection - which is actually synced to the exchange at 8128k)

  9. SMackay


    "also considered irreverent" Tee Hee.

    Anyone else see 'Team America - World Police' recently ? Kim Jong-il sings "I'm So Ronery." Rather than "I'm so irreverent".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    illevelant, shurely?

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Lower latency was one of the *key* selling points of this technology.

    satellites closer to Earth -> shorter slant distance -> lower round trip delays, shorter (undetectable?) pauses in conversations.

    Key failures seem to have been.

    1) Did not see how much the mobile phone market would grow with dramatic drops in tariffs, sizes and prices.

    2) Too long to roll out so mobile phone had momentum.

    3) Can work anywhere *except* in doors, so still need to carry 2 phones. WTF?

    4) Serious over estimation of how many subscribers wanted/needed what is effectively *universal* roaming and prepared to pay for it.

    5)Inmarsat had an *existing* service which they continued to refine, and had a solid brand already.

    Note that most of these are not *technology* failures, they are marketing, management and economic failures.

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