Globalstar received its U.S. spectrum allocation from the FCC in January 1995, and continued to negotiate with various other sovereign nations for rights to use the same radio frequencies in their countries.
The first satellites were launched in February 1998, but system deployment was delayed due to a launch failure in September 1998 which resulted in the loss of 12 satellites in a launch by the Russian Space Agency. In February 2000, it launched the last of 52 satellites: 48 satellites and four spares (reduced from the original plan of eight spares).
The first call on the original Globalstar system was placed on November 1, 1998, from Irwin Jacobs (chairman of Qualcomm) in San Diego to Bernard Schwartz (CEO and chairman of Loral Space and Communications) in New York.
In October 1999, the system began "friendly user" trials with 44 of 48 planned satellites. In December 1999, the system began limited commercial service (200 users) with the full 48 satellites (no spares in orbit). In February 2000, it began full commercial service with its 48 satellites and 4 spares in North America, Europe and Brazil. Initial prices were $1.79/minute.
On February 15, 2002, the predecessor company Globalstar (old Globalstar) and three of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
In 2004, restructuring of the old Globalstar was completed. The first stage of the restructuring was completed on December 5, 2003, when Thermo Capital Partners LLC was deemed to obtain operational control of the business, as well as certain ownership rights and risks. Thermo Capital Partners, became the principal owner.
Globalstar LLC was formed as a Delaware limited liability company in November 2003, and was converted into Globalstar, Inc., a Delaware corporation, on March 17, 2006.
In 2007 Globalstar launched eight additional first-generation spare satellites into space.
The Company's products include mobile and fixed satellite telephones, simplex and duplex satellite data modems and satellite airtime packages.
In late 2007 Globalstar subsidiary SPOT LLC., launched a handheld satellite messaging and tracking personal safety device known as the SPOT Satellite Messenger.
Many land based and maritime industries make use of the various Globalstar products and services from remote areas beyond the reach of cellular and landline telephone service.
Global customer segments include: oil and gas, government, mining, forestry, commercial fishing, utilities, military, transportation, heavy construction, emergency preparedness, and business continuity as well as individual recreational users.
Globalstar data solutions are used for a variety of asset and personal tracking, data monitoring and "Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition" or SCADA applications.
Due to the lack of inter-satellite linking, a satellite must have a gateway station in view to provide service to any users it may see. The use of gateway ground stations provides customers with localized regional phone numbers for their satellite handsets. But if there are no gateway stations to cover certain remote areas (such as areas of the South Pacific and the polar regions), service cannot be provided in these remote areas, even if the satellites may fly over them.
Most Globalstar providers have roaming agreements with local cellular operators, enabling the use of a cellular SIM card with a Globalstar handset and vice versa.
In 2005, some of the satellites began to reach the limit of their operational lifetime of 7.5 years. In December of 2005, Globalstar began to move some of its satellites into a graveyard orbit above LEO.
In the filing, Globalstar made the following statements:
"Based on data recently collected from satellite operations, the Company has concluded that the degradation of the amplifiers is now occurring at a rate that is faster than previously experienced and faster than the Company had previously anticipated."
"Based on its most recent analysis, the Company now believes that, if the degradation of the S-band antenna amplifiers continues at the current rate or further accelerates, and if the Company is unsuccessful in developing additional technical solutions, the quality of two-way communications services will decline, and by some time in 2008 substantially all of the Company’s currently in-orbit satellites will cease to be able to support two-way communications services."
Industry analysts speculate the problem is caused by radiation exposure the satellites receive when they pass through the South Atlantic Anomaly in their 876 mile (1414 km) altitude orbits.
"The S-band antenna amplifier degradation does not affect adversely the Company’s one-way “Simplex” data transmission services, which utilize only the L-band uplink from a subscriber’s “Simplex” terminal to the satellites. "
"The Company is working on plans, including new products and services and pricing programs, and exploring the feasibility of accelerating procurement and launch of its second-generation satellite constellation, to attempt to reduce the effects of this problem upon its customers and operations. The Company will be able to forecast the duration of service coverage at any particular location in its service area and intends to make this information available without charge to its service providers, including its wholly owned operating subsidiaries, so that they may work with their subscribers to reduce the impact of the degradation in service quality in their respective service areas. The Company is also reviewing its business plan in light of these developments. "
"The Company’s liquidity remains strong. At December 31, 2006, in addition to its credit agreement, the Company had unrestricted cash on hand and undrawn amounts under the Thermo Funding Company irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement of approximately $195 million."
Until the new second-generation Globalstar satellite constellation is operational, Globalstar is offering its Optimum Satellite Availability T-tool (OSAT) on its Internet site, which subscribers may use to predict when one or more unaffected satellites will be overhead at any specific geographic location.
Most current users in summer 2007 report difficulty using the phones, with very short communication windows of 1–2 minutes and frequently dropped calls . In addition, an offshore fishing magazine (Big Game Fishing Journal) wrote an editorial in their July 2007 issue on the poor service of Globalstar .
The satellites are being designed with a life expectancy of 15 years, which is significantly longer than the design life of Globalstar’s first generation constellation. In August 2008 Thales Alenia Space began production assembly, integration and testing of the second-generation flight model satellites, in its Rome factory, for launch as early as Q3 2009.
In addition, Globalstar announced on April, 03, 2007 that it has signed a EUR 9 million (approximately US$ 12 million) agreement with Thales Alenia Space to upgrade the Globalstar satellite constellation, including necessary hardware and software upgrades to Globalstar’s satellite control network facilities.
This second-generation of satellites are expected to provide service to Globalstar customers with satellite voice and data services until at least 2025.
Predecessor Company - Globalstar LP. In February 1995, Globalstar Telecommunications Ltd. raised $200 million from its initial public offering in the NASDAQ market. The IPO price of $20 per share was equivalent to $5 per share after two stock splits. The stock price peaked at (post split) $50 per share in January 2000, but institutional investors began predicting bankruptcy as early as June 2000. The stock price eventually fell below $1 per share, and the stock was delisted by NASDAQ in June 2001.
After the IPO, the publicly traded Globalstar Telecommunications (NASDAQ symbol GSTRF) owned part of system operator Globalstar LP. From that point on, the primary financing for Globastar LP was vendor financing from its suppliers (including Loral and Qualcomm), supplemented by junk bonds.
After a total debt and equity investment of $4.3 billion, on February 15, 2002 Globalstar Telecommunications filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing assets of $570 million and liabilities of $3.3 billion. The assets were later bought for $43 million by Thermo Capital Partners LLC.
Globalstar LLC and Globalstar, Inc. When the new Globalstar emerged from bankruptcy in April 2004, it was owned by Thermo Capital Partners (81.25%) and the original creditors of Globalstar L.P. (18.75%). Globalstar LLC was later incorporated in April of 2006 to become Globalstar, Inc.
Globalstar, Inc. completed an IPO in November of 2006. The stock currently trades on the Nasgaq Global Select Market under the symbol GSAT.
In August 2007, Globalstar announced the introduction of the SPOT Satellite Messenger product, to be marketed through its latest subsidiary SPOT Inc., later named SPOT LLC. The SPOT Messenger is manufactured by Globalstar partner Axonn LLC and combines the company's simplex data technology with a Nemerix GPS chipset. SPOT is intended to leverage Globalstar's still adequate L-Band uplink, which is used by simplex modems. The product was launched early November 2007.
Loral’s chairman Bernard Schwartz served as Globalstar’s chairman and CEO until May 2001.
The company then appointed satellite telecommunications veteran Olof Lundberg to lead a turnaround at the company to serve as chairman and CEO. After beginning his career with Swedish Telecom, Lundberg had been founding Director General (later CEO) of Inmarsat from 1979–1995. He served as founding CEO and later CEO and Chairman ICO Global Communications from 1995–1999.