Officials with Covington-based Globalstar mounted a vigorous defense of the satellite phone company Thursday, having seen its stock price plunge after an investment-management firm issued a report that says the satellite communications company’s stock is worthless.
Jay Monroe, Globalstar chairman and CEO, said the Kerrisdale Capital Management report is “fundamentally flawed and wrong” and “mischaracterized facts” all for personal gain. Kerrisdale is shorting GlobalStar’s stock and could profit from a drop in share prices.
“This is a transparent agenda to drive our stock down,” Monroe said during a conference call with analysts and reporters that lasted nearly two hours.
The Kerrisdale report says Globalstar’s efforts to set up a terrestrial low-power service Wi-Fi network are flawed because the frequency it would use is not valuable. Kerrisdale also said the issue of Wi-Fi congestion, which Globalstar said it will solve, is overblown and easily can be solved with existing resources. The firm points to the fact that major global events with large numbers of spectators in small areas such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics are held with high-quality Wi-Fi service.
“Wi-Fi congestion is real and getting worse,” Monroe said. “It needs to be addressed. Regulators agree we are at or near a breaking point, especially in urban areas.”
Monroe cited comments from former Federal Communications Commission officials and leaders with companies such as Cisco Systems and Google. According to groups ranging from Cisco to the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, mobile data traffic is projected to register compound annual growth between 50 percent to 100 percent.
Globalstar has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to open up its spectrum to allow for wireless Internet service in American cities. By tapping the spectrum set aside for Globalstar in areas where satellite phone service isn’t needed, the company has said it could increase Wi-Fi capacity in the U.S. by one-third immediately.
“This is a clear answer to a public and industry need,” Monroe said. The terrestrial network can be deployed within months and will utilize frequencies that are already being used in smartphones, laptops and tablets, meaning that the devices can access the network just through software or hardware updates.
John Dooley, who invented the private TLPS band, said going to a different spectrum like Kerrisdale suggests as an alternative “would be a very difficult and expensive thing to do” because it would require companies to build receivers to address the band and not utilize existing hardware.
“This is a thesis based on unsubstantiated claims and a gross misunderstanding,” he said.
Globalstar is waiting on final FCC approval to set up the TLPS network. The company is talking to Internet service providers and device manufacturers about commercialization into a carrier-grade service, but Monroe said nondisclosure agreements prevented him from identifying the firms. Bloomberg reported in 2013 that Amazon tested a wireless network on the Globalstar TLPS, potentially as a way of enhancing its instant video service.
Monroe said he is having “regular dialogue” with firms about the TLPS network. “Each of them knows what it means to them and to their competitors,” he said.
Shares of Globalstar closed at $2.10 Thursday, down 10 cents on a down day for most stocks. The stock price has plunged from its $3.66 a share close on Sept. 30, the day before Sahm Adrangi, Kerrisdale’s founder, started taking shots at the company online.
Monroe noted that Thermo Capital Partners, of Denver, which has a $600 million stake in Globalstar, has not sold any shares in the company.
“This is not the time to bet against Globalstar,” he said. “The facts, momentum and market opportunity are all on our side.”
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.