In a ruling that may place mobile satellite service (MSS) competitors Iridium and Globalstar on a more equal footing, the FCC granted Iridium an additional 3.1 MHz of exclusive “Big Leo” L-band spectrum in the 1.6 GHz frequency range, thus providing both competitors with exclusive control of 7.775 MHz of spectrum and reducing the amount of spectrum that the companies must share to 0.95 MHz. The FCC’s decision resolves a dispute that erupted between the companies in 2004, when the FCC authorized Iridium to use the 3.1 MHz of spectrum that is the subject of last Friday’s order on a shared basis with Globalstar. Citing its growing spectrum needs, Iridium later asked the FCC to modify the L-band spectrum plan to give Iridium exclusive access to the channels in question. Notwithstanding Globalstar’s objections, the FCC decided ultimately to provide each operator with the same amount of exclusive spectrum “based upon new information in the record showing the impracticability of Big LEO spectrum sharing.” As a result, Iridium will be afforded exclusive use of Big LEO MSS spectrum at 1618.725-1626.MHz, while Globalstar will have exclusive rights to the 1610-1617.775 MHz band. The companies will also be required to share channels between 1617.775 and 1618.725 MHz. Although Globalstar said it was “considering its options regarding the FCC’s adjustment to the boundary between Globalstar’s and Iridium’s spectrum in the U.S.,” Globalstar officials applauded the release of a related FCC rulemaking notice (NPRM) that seeks comment on the Globalstar’s petition to expand its ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) network throughout its entire L-band MSS allocation. In issuing the NPRM, the FCC cited Globalstar’s argument that steady and significant growth in subscribership has increased its need for additional ATC spectrum. Contingent upon the receipt of increased ATC authority, Globalstar said it would seek partners that would help it provide “a broader range of ubiquitous and seamless wireless solutions, including, as described in the [NPRM], ‘broadband services in rural areas that currently lack affordable, high-speed broadband.’”