Globalstar 10-K 2007
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, DC 20549
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2006
o TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number 001-33117
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
461 South Milpitas Blvd.
Milpitas, California 95035
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrants telephone number, including area code: (408) 933-4000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of accelerated filer and large accelerated filer in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act) Yes o No x
The aggregate market value of the Registrants Common Stock held by non-affiliates at December 31, 2006, the last business day of the Registrants most recently completed fiscal quarter, was approximately $343.7 million. The Registrants Common Stock was not publicly traded at the end of its most recently completed second quarter.
The number of shares of the Registrants common stock outstanding as of March 26, 2007 was 74,917,340.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrants Proxy Statement for the 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Report.
In addition to current and historical information, this Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to our future operations, prospects, potential products, services, developments and business strategies. These statements can, in some cases, be identified by the use of terms such as may, will, should, could, would, intend, expect, plan, anticipate, believe, estimate, predict, project, potential, continue, the negative of such terms or other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements, such as the statements regarding our ability to develop and expand our business, our ability to manage costs, our ability to exploit and respond to technological innovation, the effects of laws and regulations (including tax laws and regulations) and legal and regulatory changes, the opportunities for strategic business combinations and the effects of consolidation in our industry on us and our competitors, our anticipated future revenues, our anticipated capital spending (including for future satellite procurements and launches), our anticipated financial resources, our expectations about the future operational performance of our satellites (including their projected operational lives), the expected strength of and growth prospects for our existing customers and the markets that we serve, and other statements contained in this report regarding matters that are not historical facts, involve predictions. These and similar statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements or industry results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, those listed in Item 1A. Risk Factors of this Report. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any of our forward-looking statements after the date of this Report to reflect actual results or future events or circumstances.
Globalstar, Inc. is a leading provider of mobile voice and data communications services via satellite. By providing wireless services where terrestrial wireless and wireline networks do not, we seek to address the increasing desire by customers for connectivity and reliable service at all times and locations. Using in-orbit satellites and ground stations, which we refer to as gateways, we offer voice and data communications services to government agencies, businesses and other customers in over 120 countries. Sixteen of these gateways are operated by unaffiliated companies, which we refer to as independent gateway operators, which purchase communications services from us on a wholesale basis for resale to their customers.
Our network, originally owned by Globalstar, L.P. (Old Globalstar) was designed, built and launched in the late 1990s by a technology partnership led by Loral Space and Communications and QUALCOMM. On February 15, 2002, Old Globalstar and three of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. In 2004, we completed the second stage of a two stage acquisition of the business and assets of Old Globalstar. The first stage 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, which owns and operates companies in diverse business sectors and is referred to in this Report, together with its affiliates, as Thermo, became our principal owner. We refer to this transaction as the Reorganization.
We were formed as a Delaware limited liability company in November 2003, and were converted into a Delaware corporation on March 17, 2006. Unless we specifically state otherwise, all information in this Report is presented as if we were a corporation throughout the relevant periods.
In anticipation of our initial public offering, which was completed on November 2, 2006, our certificate of incorporation was amended on October 25, 2006 to combine our three series of common stock into one class and our Board of Directors approved a six-for-one stock split. Unless we specifically state otherwise, all information in this Report is presented as if these corporate events had occurred at the beginning of the relevant periods.
At December 31, 2006, we served approximately 263,000 subscribers, which represented a 34% increase since December 31, 2005. Based on information provided by Northern Sky Research L.L.C., a third-party telecommunications industry research firm, as to the size of the global market, in 2005 we had an estimated 10.2% share of global subscribers in the mobile satellite services industry. We believe the heightened demand for reliable communications services, particularly in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the December 2004 Asian tsunami and the U.S. Gulf Coast hurricane activity in 2004 and 2005, will continue to drive our growth in sales of both voice and data services. We have a diverse customer base, including the government (including federal, state and local agencies), public safety and disaster relief; recreation and personal; maritime and fishing; natural resources, mining and forestry; oil and gas; construction; utilities; and transportation sectors, which we refer to as our vertical markets. According to Gartner, Inc. (Gartner), a third party telecommunications industry research firm, we are one of the two key mobile satellite services providers whose networks can deliver voice and data communication services over most of the worlds landmass.
We believe that our distribution network provides broad coverage over our target customer base. At December 31, 2006, we had a network of approximately 450 dealers and agents, that operated approximately 900 distribution outlets in territories we serve directly. We also use resellers, including independent gateway operators, to sell the full range of our voice and data products and services, including our Simplex one-way data transmission services, in markets where we do not market directly.
We hold licenses to operate a wireless communications network via satellites over 27.85 MHz, comprised of two blocks of contiguous global radio frequencies. We believe our large blocks of spectrum will permit us to capitalize on existing and emerging wireless and broadcast applications globally.
A number of our satellites have experienced various anomalies over time, one of which is a degradation in the performance of the solid-state power amplifiers of the S-band communications antenna. If the S-band antenna on a satellite ceases to be commercially functional entirely, two-way communication is impossible over that satellite, but not necessarily over the constellation as a whole. In early 2007, we undertook a comprehensive third party review of this problem and based on data recently collected from satellite operations, we have concluded that the degradation of the two-way communication service is occurring at a rate faster than previously experienced and faster than we had previously anticipated. See Satellite Constellation Operations and Item 1A. Risk FactorsOur satellites have a limited life and may fail prematurely, which would cause our network to be compromised and materially and adversely affect our business, prospects and profitability. The S-band antenna amplifier degradation does not affect adversely our one-way Simplex data transmission services, which utilize only the L-band uplink from a subscribers Simplex terminal to the satellites. We are scheduled to launch eight spare satellites in 2007 to supplement our current constellation. We expect these satellites to provide two-way communication service through the deployment of our second-generation constellation beginning in 2009.
We are currently in the process of procuring our second-generation satellite constellation, which we expect will extend the life of our network until approximately 2025. On November 30, 2006, we entered into a definitive contract with Alcatel Alenia Space France (Alcatel) to construct 48 low earth orbit satellites for our second-generation satellite constellation and to provide launch-related and operations services. See Management Discussion and AnalysisContractual Obligations and Commitments. We believe that our second-generation satellites will improve our ability to support new applications and services, including higher-speed data rates and internet access, video and audio broadcasting, remote file
transfer and virtual private networking. We expect these services to be available on a broad range of new customer devices that will be significantly smaller in size, lighter in weight and less expensive than existing mobile satellite services equipment. We believe this expanded service portfolio and advanced equipment offering will significantly expand the target market for our services.
We are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) services in combination with our existing communication services. Currently, our ATC license permits us to use 11 MHz of our licensed spectrum to combine our satellite-based communications network with a terrestrial cellular-like network. This will enable us to address a broader market for our services and products by providing services where satellite services generally do not function, such as urban areas and inside buildings. We have applied to the FCC for authority to provide ATC services over the full 27.85 MHz of our spectrum. Our current network is capable of supporting ATC services. We are currently evaluating products and selectively exploring opportunities with targeted media, technology and communications companies to develop further the potential of our ATC-licensed spectrum. In addition, regulatory authorities outside of the United States are reviewing ATC-like rulings, and we are beginning to explore selectively capitalizing on these rulings. We expect to be among the first to offer ATC services commercially.
We recorded $136.7 million in revenue and $23.6 million in net income during the year ended December 31, 2006, compared to $127.1 million in revenue and $18.7 million in net income for the year ended December 31, 2005. Net income for 2006 included an income tax benefit of $21.4 million relating to the establishment of deferred tax assets and liabilities upon our election in January 2006 to be taxed as a C corporation. See Note 12 to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this Report.
We compete in the mobile satellite services sector of the global communications industry. Mobile satellite services operators provide voice and data services using a network of satellites and ground facilities. Mobile satellite services are usually complementary to, and interconnected with, other forms of terrestrial communications services and infrastructure and are intended to respond to users desires for connectivity at all times and locations. Customers typically use satellite voice and data communications in situations where existing terrestrial wireline and wireless communications networks are impaired or do not exist. Further, many regions of the world benefit from satellite networks, such as rural and developing areas that lack developed wireless or wireline networks, ocean regions, and regions affected by political conflicts and natural disasters. Northern Sky Research stated in a 2006 report that, the MSS industry has proven to be invaluable in supporting disaster preparedness and recovery activities, military applications, and other critical civil requirements that require rapidly deployable, reliable and ubiquitous communication services.
Worldwide, government organizations, military and intelligence agencies, natural disaster aid associations, event-driven response agencies and corporate security teams depend on mobile and fixed voice and data communications services on a regular basis. Businesses with global operating scope require reliable communications services when operating in remote locations around the world. Mobile satellite services users span the forestry, maritime, government, oil and gas, mining, leisure, emergency services, construction and transportation sectors, among others. We believe many existing customers increasingly view satellite communications services as critical to their daily operations.
Increasingly, better-tailored, improved-technology products and services are creating new channels of demand for mobile satellite services. Growth in demand for mobile satellite voice services is driven by the declining cost of these services, the diminishing size and lower costs of the handsets, as well as heightened demand by governments, businesses and individuals for ubiquitous global voice coverage. Growth in mobile satellite data services is driven by the rollout of new applications requiring higher bandwidth, as
well as low cost data collection and asset tracking devices. Furthermore, Northern Sky Research expects units in service in our industry to exhibit a cumulative annual growth rate of 34.2% through 2010, resulting in a 17.9% cumulative annual growth rate in retail revenue.
Communications industry sectors that are relevant to our business include:
· mobile satellite services, which provide customers with connectivity to mobile and fixed devices using ground facilities and networks of geostationary satellites (located approximately 22,300 miles above the earths surface), medium earth orbit satellites (located between approximately 6,400 and 10,000 miles above the earths surface), or low earth orbit satellites (located between approximately 300 and 1,000 miles above the earths surface);
· fixed satellite services, which use geostationary satellites to provide customers with voice and broadband communications links between fixed points on the earths surface; and
· terrestrial services, which use a terrestrial network to provide wireless or wireline connectivity and are complementary to satellite services.
Within the major satellite sectors, fixed satellite services and mobile satellite services operators differ significantly from each other. Fixed satellite services providers, such as Intelsat Ltd., Eutelsat Communications (Eutelsat) and SES Global, and very small aperture terminals companies, such as Hughes Networks and Gilat Satellite Networks, are characterized by large, often stationary or fixed, ground terminals that send and receive high-bandwidth signals to and from the satellite network for video and high speed data customers and international telephone markets. On the other hand, mobile satellite services providers, such as our company, Inmarsat P.L.C. (Inmarsat) and Iridium Satellite L.L.C. (Iridium), focus more on voice and data services (including data services which track the location of remote assets such as shipping containers), where mobility or small sized terminals are essential. As mobile satellite terminals begin to offer higher bandwidth to support a wider range of applications, we expect mobile satellite services operators will increasingly compete with fixed satellite services operators.
According to Gartner, a low earth orbit system, such as the systems we and Iridium currently operate, causes less transmission delay than a geosynchronous system due to the shorter distance signals have to travel and permits the use of smaller devices such as handheld phones.
Currently, our principal mobile satellite services global competitors are Inmarsat and Iridium. United Kingdom-based Inmarsat owns and operates a geostationary satellite network and U.S.-based Iridium owns and operates a low earth orbit satellite network. Inmarsat provides communications services, such as telephony, fax, video, email and high-speed data services. Iridium offers narrow-band data, fax and voice communications services. We also compete with several regional mobile satellite services providers that operate geostationary satellites, such as Thuraya Satellite Communications Company (Thuraya), principally in the Middle East and Africa; Mobile Satellite Ventures and Mobile Satellite Ventures Canada in the Americas; and Asian Cellular Satellites in Asia.
We sell our products and services through a variety of retail and wholesale channels. Our sales and marketing efforts are tailored to each of our geographic regions and targeted vertical markets. Unlike the cellular industry, we do not conduct costly mass consumer marketing campaigns. Rather, our sales professionals target specific commercial vertical markets and customers with face-to-face meetings, product trials, advertising in publications for those markets and direct mailings. We also focus a large amount of our marketing activity on tradeshows. In 2006, we attended approximately 50 different corporate tradeshows in North America and Europe, where we sponsored booths and demonstrated our products. Our dealers and resellers attended additional tradeshows where they showcased our products.
Our distribution managers are responsible for conducting direct sales with key accounts and for managing agent, dealer and reseller relationships in assigned territories in over 25 countries. They conduct direct sales with key customers and manage over approximately 450 agents and dealers, many of whom have multiple distribution outlets. We maintain a sales force presence throughout the United States, including an office in Washington, D.C. dedicated to government-based sales. We also distribute our services and products indirectly through approximately 20 major resellers and value added resellers in the United States and 10 independent gateway operators that employ their own salespeople to sell the full range of our voice and data products and services in over 60 countries. Wholesale sales to independent gateway operators represented approximately 6% of our service revenue for the year ended December 31, 2006. No agent, dealer or reseller represented more than 5% of our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2006.
Our typical dealer is a communications services equipment retailer. We offer competitive service and equipment commissions to our network of dealers to encourage increased sales. Since the Reorganization, we have terminated our relationship with numerous underperforming dealers and agents and replaced them with better performing new dealers and agents. We believe our more stringent dealer and agent requirements and our incentive programs position us to continue to experience growing dealer and agent sales due to a better-trained, focused and motivated sales network.
In addition to sales through our distribution managers, agents, dealers and resellers, customers can place orders through our website at www.globalstar.com or by calling our customer sales office at (877) 728-7466. To encourage internet sales, our website includes special promotional offers that are unavailable elsewhere. We believe that, as awareness of our services grows and our brand name becomes more recognizable, we will experience an increase in our direct internet and phone order sales. Because we do not need to pay an agent commission or sell our services at reduced margins, our internet and phone sales channels are the most profitable. Our website and call center provide a user-friendly interface with consumers looking for a simple transaction or customer support.
The reseller channel is comprised primarily of communications equipment companies and commercial communications equipment rental companies who retain and bill clients directly, outside of our account maintenance system. Many of our resellers specialize in niche vertical markets where high-use customers are concentrated. We have productive sales arrangements with major resellers to market our services, including some value added resellers who integrate our products into their proprietary end products or applications. Some of our resellers offer our services and products through rental and leasing arrangements.
Outside of the United States and Canada, the majority of our retail sales are conducted through resellers and independent gateway operators. In 2006, we implemented a new direct sales and marketing program in Europe to bolster our growth in the region and further our strategy of direct contact with customers. Accordingly, we hired several experienced salespeople in Europe who have distribution manager-type responsibilities in each of their assigned territories. We believe that our investment in our European distribution channel and effort to transfer existing customers to our direct sales network will enhance our ability to rapidly grow our subscriber base overseas. We also plan to enter new European territories where our network can provide service but where we have not previously marketed our services and products and to target previously underserved vertical markets in Europe. We are implementing similar changes in the territories served by the gateways we acquired from independent gateway operators in Venezuela and Central America.
Our wholesale operations primarily encompass bulk sales of wholesale minutes to the independent gateway operators around the globe. These independent gateway operators maintain their own subscriber bases that are exclusive to us and promote their own service plans. The independent gateway operator system has allowed us to expand in regions that hold significant growth potential but are harder to serve
without sufficient operational scale or where local regulatory requirements or business or cultural norms do not permit us to operate directly. Our wholesale efforts also include our Simplex and duplex data tracking devices.
Set forth below is a list of independent gateway operators as of December 31, 2006:
We do not own or control these independent gateway operators nor do we operate their gateways. We own and operate directly gateways in the United States, Canada, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and France. See Item 2. Properties.
Our principal services are satellite communications services, including mobile and fixed voice and data services and asset tracking and monitoring services. We introduced our asset tracking and monitoring services in late 2003, and demand for these services has grown rapidly since then. Sales of all services accounted for approximately 67%, 64% and 69% of our total revenues for the years ended December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively. We also sell the related voice and data equipment to our customers, which accounted for approximately 33%, 36% and 31% of our total revenues for the years ended December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively.
Mobile Voice and Data Satellite Communications Services
We offer our mobile voice and data services to customers via numerous monthly plans at price levels that vary depending upon expected usage. Except for our asset tracking and remote monitoring service, which we refer to as our Simplex service, subscribers under these plans typically pay an initial activation fee to the agent or dealer, as well as a monthly usage fee to us that entitles the customer to a fixed number of minutes in addition to services such as voicemail, call forwarding, short messaging, email, data compression and internet access. We receive both an activation fee and monthly fee for Simplex services. Extra fees may apply for non-voice services, roaming and long-distance.
We regularly innovate our service offerings. In August 2004, as part of our strategy to offer bundled minutes for heavy use customers, we introduced on a limited basis our annual plans, which allow mobile voice and data users to pay an up-front, annual fee for a certain number of minutes to be used at any time
within a one-year period, thus providing flexibility for seasonal and sporadic users. In the second quarter of 2005, we broadly rolled out this service offering to all customers. All unused minutes expire at the end of the one-year period. If subscribers use all of their minutes before the end of the one-year period, they may purchase an additional years worth of minutes or can pay for additional minutes at a somewhat higher overage rate. We believe that our mobile voice customers are drawn to our annual plans because of their ability to eliminate monthly overage charges given their unpredictable communications needs. In addition, we offer an annual plan called the Emergency Plan whereby the customer is charged an annual fee to access our system and the customer is charged for each minute used under this plan. We have seen rapid market acceptance of our annual plans and expect they will continue to be an attractive service offering for customers in many of our vertical markets. These plans also eliminate the need for monthly billings, reduce collection costs and enhance our cash flow.
Fixed Voice and Data Satellite Communications Services
We provide fixed voice and data services in rural villages, at remote industrial, commercial and residential sites and on ships at sea, among other places. Fixed voice and data satellite communications services are in many cases an attractive alternative to mobile satellite communications services in situations where multiple users will access the service within a defined geographic area and cellular or ground phone service is not available. Our fixed units also may be mounted on vehicles, barges and construction equipment and benefit from the ability to have higher gain antennas. Our fixed voice and data service plans are similar to our mobile voice and data plans and offer similar flexibility. In addition to offering monthly service plans, our fixed phones can be configured as pay phones (installed at a central location, for example, in a rural village) that accept tokens, debit cards, prepaid usage cards, or credit cards.
For current pricing of the services that we offer to mobile, fixed and data terminal customers, see our website at www.globalstar.com.
Satellite Data Modem Services
In addition to data utilization through fixed and mobile services described above, we also offer data-only services. Our principal competitor providing these services is Orbcomm Inc., which describes its market as two-way machine-to-machine communications and which reported about 200,000 subscribers at September 30, 2006. Our system is well-suited to handle duplex data transmission. Duplex devices have two-way transmission capabilities; for asset-tracking applications, this enables customers to control directly their remote assets and perform more complicated monitoring activities. We offer asynchronous and packet data service in all of our territories. Customers can use our products to access the internet, corporate virtual private networks and other customer specific data centers. Satellite data modems are sold principally through integrators and value added resellers, who developed innovative end-market solutions, such as the Safety Star product, designed to address lone worker safety concerns, and the Skyhawk product, designed for maritime use. Our satellite data modems can be activated under any one of our current pricing plans. Satellite data modems are a fast growing product group that provide solutions that are accessible in every region we serve. The revenue that flows from these products provides an important and growing source of recurring service revenue and subscriber equipment sales for us.
Additionally, we offer a data acceleration and compression service to the satellite data modem market. This service increases web-browsing, email and other data transmission speeds without any special equipment or hardware.
Asset Tracking and Remote Monitoring (Simplex)
Our Simplex service is designed to address the market need for a small and cost-effective solution for sending data (such as location) from assets in remote locations to a central monitoring station. Simplex is a
one-way burst data transmission to our network from a Simplex telemetry unit, which may be located, for example, on a container in transit. At the heart of the Simplex service is an application server, which is located at a gateway. This server receives and collates messages from all Simplex telemetry units received on our satellite network. Simplex transmitting devices consist of a Simplex telemetry unit, an application specific sensor, a battery (with up to a seven-year life depending on the number of transmissions) and optional global positioning functionality. The small size of the units makes them attractive for use in applications such as tracking asset shipments, monitoring unattended remote assets, trailer tracking and mobile security. Our Simplex service was introduced in 2003. Current users include various governmental agencies, including FEMA, the U.S. Army and the Mexican Ministry of Education, as well as commercial and other entities such as General Electric, Dell and The Salvation Army.
Customers are able to realize an efficiency advantage from tracking assets on a single system as opposed to several regional systems. Simplex services are currently available from equipment installed into gateways in North America, Europe, Venezuela, Turkey, Korea, Australia, Peru and Russia. We rolled out two additional application servers in 2006 to cover what we view as additional major geographic markets for this service. We sell our Simplex services through value added resellers. Value added resellers purchase the services directly from us by subscribing to various pricing options offered by us to address various applications for this service and resell them to the end user. We receive a monthly subscription service fee and a one-time activation fee for each activated Simplex device.
We continually explore innovative product solutions utilizing our Simplex network and we intend to market a related consumer based product offering.
Voice and Data Equipment
Our services are available for use only with equipment designed to work on our network, which is typically sold to users in conjunction with an initial service plan. Our mobile phones, similar to ordinary cellular phones, are simple to use. In the fourth quarter of 2006, we began offering the new satellite-only GSP-1700 phone, which is an update to the GSP-1600. The new phone includes a user-friendly color LCD screen and a rugged, water resistant case available in multiple colors. The phones represent a significant improvement over earlier-generation equipment, and we believe that the advantages will drive increased adoption from prospective users as well as increased revenue from our existing subscribers. We also believe that the GSP-1700 is among the smallest, lightest and least-expensive satellite phones available. We are the only satellite network operator currently using the patented QUALCOMM CDMA technology that permits the selection of the strongest signal available.
Currently, QUALCOMM manufactures all of our mobile phones and most of our accessories. In addition to the GSP-1700, we continue to offer our remaining inventories of GSP-1600 tri-mode units that work on AMPS (the North American analog cellular standard) and CDMA digital cellular networks, as well as on our satellite system.
In May 2005, we entered into an agreement with QUALCOMM to manufacture next-generation mobile and fixed devices. Under this agreement, QUALCOMM agreed to supply us with what we project will be a supply of advanced mobile phone units and accessories and advanced data products sufficient to meet our expected demand through 2010.
In addition to our principal products described above, we offer a large selection of related accessories for our line of phones, including car kits, cigarette lighter adapters, wall chargers, travel chargers and remote antennas. Under our agreement with QUALCOMM, they also will produce for us second-generation car kits and other accessories. We believe that sales of these high-margin accessories, especially of car kits, also drive additional product usage, which in turn results in higher service revenue.
In addition to traditional satellite handsets, we sell multiple specialized products designed to address the specific needs of certain attractive end-user markets including the emergency response, maritime and aviation markets. These products include:
Emergency Response. Our Globalstar Emergency Management Communications System (GEMCOMS) is comprised of five of our fixed phones conveniently mounted in a container allowing for quick deployment, set-up and operation in an emergency situation. GEMCOMS can operate as a standalone unit (allowing up to five simultaneous Globalstar phone calls) or be combined with a small and relatively inexpensive picocell to provide an almost instantaneous local cellular capability in areas where the infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed. GEMCOMS operates like stand-alone cellular phone sites. Prototypes of this system were made available to FEMA for use in support of the disaster relief efforts for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
Maritime. We provide mobile satellite services specialized for the maritime market through equipment manufactured and sold by SeaTel Wavecall. SeaTel Wavecall currently produces two maritime products: the Wavecall 3000 and the Wavecall MCM3. The Wavecall 3000 provides a voice and data capability for maritime users with up to 9.6 Kbps (with compressed speeds of up to 38.4 Kbps) data throughput while the MCM3 provides voice and data with a throughput of up to 28.8 Kbps (with compressed speeds of up to 144 Kbps). The omni directional antenna (available on all our products) and small physical package provides a significant savings in both equipment and airtime costs compared to competitive systems. Key users of the WaveCall 3000 include the United States Coast Guard and commercial fishermen. In addition, we are planning to design our own maritime fixed product.
Aviation. Our aviation products are specially designed for use in helicopters, waterbombers, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard surveillance and rescue, commercial, general aviation and transport aircraft. We have worked with two major companies in the airline industry to identify the service features and necessary regulatory requirements to provide a wireless in-cabin voice and data service to passengers. Our products are sold by avionic companies, including Sagem Avionics, Geneva Aerospace and Northern Airborne Technologies, to customers including the U.S. Army and Air Force.
The satellite data modem model GSP-1620 duplex data device developed and manufactured by QUALCOMM provides packet data and data processing capability over our network. The satellite data modem model GSP-1620 has compressed speeds of up to 38.4 Kbps and is highly programmable to meet multiple applications.
Selected New Products in Development
Multi-Channel Modem. In the first half of 2006, we introduced our multi-channel modem to the market. We offer the new multi-channel modem with either four or eight modem boards and a single remote antenna which facilitates data rates up to 76.8 Kbps (with compressed speeds of between 144 and 256 Kbps). We expect this product to be attractive to corporate customers requiring downloads of data at higher speeds and to surveillance and security companies that require simultaneous voice and data applications, such as video security monitoring and telephone service from remote locations. Additionally, the U.S. government agencies are testing this product to determine its suitability for security monitoring and transmission of video images from fixed and mobile platforms. The relative benefits are that (1) a high rate data service is available from the network via a relatively small electronics package at our low usage rates and (2) the product allows simultaneous voice and data availability at higher than a single 9.6 Kbps data rate.
QUALCOMM GSP-1720 Satellite Voice and Data Modem. Under our May 2005 agreement, QUALCOMM is manufacturing an updated satellite voice and data modem known as the GSP-1720 that is based on the same technology used in the GSP-1700 phone. We expect to introduce the GSP-1720 modem in the first half of 2007. This will be a new satellite voice and data modem board with multiple antenna configurations and an enlarged set of commands for modem control and will be smaller, less expensive and easier to operate than our current product. We expect this new board will be attractive to integrators because it will have more user interfaces that are easily programmable, which will make it easier for value added resellers to integrate the satellite modem processing with the specific application (e.g., monitoring and controlling oil and gas pumps, monitoring and controlling electric power plants and more economically facilitating security and control monitoring of remote facilities).
The specialized needs of our global customers span many markets. Our system is able to offer our customers cost-effective communications solutions in areas underserved or unserved by existing telecommunications infrastructures. Although traditional users of wireless telephony and broadband data services have access to these services in developed locations, our targeted customers often operate or live in remote or under-developed regions where these services are not readily available or are not provided on a reliable basis.
Our top revenue generating markets are government (including federal, state and local agencies), public safety and disaster relief; recreation and personal; maritime and fishing and business. We also serve customers in the markets of financial and insurance; natural resources, mining and forestry; oil and gas; construction; utilities; and transportation. We focus our attention on obtaining customers who will be long-term users of our services and products and who will generate high average revenue per user and, therefore, higher revenue growth. The following is a discussion of these markets.
Government, Public Safety and Disaster Relief. In the United States and Canada, our customers in the government, public safety and disaster relief sector represent one of our largest and most critical markets, and constituted 24% of our total subscribers in those regions at December 31, 2006. We conduct business with many major federal, state, provincial and local government agencies, including, in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense, NASA and every branch of the U.S. Military, as well as state and local governments, police departments, hospitals and first response teams. In Canada, we conduct business with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and with many additional federal and provincial agencies. Relief agencies such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and FEMA generate significant demand for both our voice and data products, especially during the late summer months in anticipation of the hurricane season in North America. Our Simplex service facilitates tracking and managing the distribution of movable hard assets such as generators, trucks, trailers and relief supplies to disaster areas, while our fixed and mobile voice terminals enable relief workers and victims to communicate in areas where terrestrial service is no longer operational. We provide customized communications solutions to various departments of the U.S. government, enabling them to monitor logistics status, report position and track vehicle and performance status, as well as conduct two-way voice communications services. Expansion of our government business both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world represents a significant growth opportunity, and we expect that our relationships with various government agencies will bolster our leadership position in the mobile satellite services industry. Although we have a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule in effect, substantially all of our business with U.S. governmental agencies is pursuant to individual purchase orders with various agencies. We did not have any contract backlog at December 31, 2006.
Recreation and Personal. Outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, international leisure travelers, recreational fishermen, backpackers, commercial outfitters, remote lodge owners and nature tour groups use our services for recreational and personal leisure activities and constituted 19% of our U.S. and Canadian
customers at December 31, 2006. Our network coverage extends beyond shorelines and provides recreational sailors and recreational fishermen an affordable satellite communications solution. Hunters, hikers and backpackers carry our mobile phones with them to maintain a reliable communications link with the outside world, report emergencies and check voicemail and email.
Maritime and Fishing. Customers in all phases of the maritime industry, including commercial fishing, workboat, transport and recreational maritime, use our services for their primary fleet and ship-to-shore communications and constituted 11% of our U.S. and Canadian customers at December 31, 2006. Commercial fishing customers use voice services as their primary communications to coordinate fishing locations with other boats in their fleet and for ship-to-shore communications to arrange docking times or order parts, check landing prices and manage onshore operations. In addition, they use data services for weather and oceanic conditions, which are key to improving their fishing productivity and communicating with government fisheries departments. Commercial fishing users are located primarily in the Pacific Northwest and northern Atlantic fishing regions. Marine transport customers use voice services as their primary ship-to-shore communications while they transport oil from Valdez, Alaska. Additionally, there is a strong demand for voice and data services throughout the Gulf of Mexico for boats servicing offshore oil rigs and for workboats traveling offshore and up the Mississippi River.
Oil and Gas. Oil and gas companies are typically our highest average revenue per user customers as they require satellite-based communications to carry out their routine business. They constituted 5% of our U.S. and Canadian customers at December 31, 2006. Oil and gas companies equip their engineers with our equipment for scouting new drilling opportunities and for conducting routine operations in remote areas. There is an essential need for reliable communication to manage effectively oil, gas and energy extraction operations, which results in very high usage levels for those companies. Moreover, off-shore drilling platforms and oil tankers are equipped with our terminals capable of sending and receiving data and voice transmissions.
Natural Resources, Mining and Forestry. Natural resources, mining and forestry customers rely on our communications services to conduct their businesses. These customers constituted 4% of our U.S. and Canadian customers at December 31, 2006. Forestry workers in the field utilize our mobile communications services to patrol remote areas. Timber harvesting workers use mobile voice services to scout sites, coordinate logistics and monitor operations. A significant portion of forestry work occurs in mountainous areas in the northwestern United States and western Canada that lack either wireless or wireline communications networks. Similarly, mining companies use our mobile services to survey new mining opportunities and conduct operations in remote geographies that are not served by cellular communications networks. Once a mine is in operation, our customers tend to install fixed communications terminals that provide essential voice and data service to the mine. Miners use our devices to communicate with other miners, remain in touch with central business hubs and report emergencies.
Construction. Construction companies, which constituted 3% of our U.S. and Canadian customers at December 31, 2006, use our mobile voice phones primarily for constructing new facilities in rural areas. Contractors rely on our mobile devices to maintain contact with sub-contractors, suppliers and architects. Until a remote construction site is connected to a local telecommunications network, our phones often serve as the sole form of communication for site workers. Within the construction industry, drilling and cement companies represent a large customer base. Due to the hazardous nature of construction work, maintaining a reliable communications link at remote construction and drilling sites is critical in the event of an accident or other emergency.
Utilities. Utility customers, which constituted 3% of our U.S. and Canadian customers at December 31, 2006, use our services for both normal and emergency operations. For normal operations, our data modems connect on-truck laptops with headquarters to manage work orders and maintain field
operations control. During emergencies, our voice services are used to coordinate crew deployment to restore utility services or to keep remote field workers in touch after an accident.
Transportation. Customers in the transportation industry, which constituted 2% of our U.S. and Canadian customers at December 31, 2006, use our Simplex services to monitor the location of their vehicles, trailers and assets, such as containers, and use our duplex data and voice products to facilitate two-way voice and data communications with drivers. Long distance drivers need reliable communication with both dispatchers and their destinations to coordinate changing business needs, and our satellite network provides continuous communications coverage while they are in transit.
We hold licenses to operate a wireless communications network via satellite over 27.85 MHz in two blocks of contiguous global radio frequency spectrum. Most of our competitors only have access to spectrum frequencies regionally. Access to this global spectrum enables us to design satellites, network and terrestrial infrastructure enhancements cost effectively because the products and services can be deployed and sold worldwide. This broad spectrum assignment enhances our ability to capitalize on existing and emerging wireless and broadcast applications.
Because most of the desirable spectrum below 3GHz has already been allocated by the FCC or will be auctioned by the FCC for terrestrial wireless services, we believe there are limited options for new spectrum allocations. Utilization of existing spectrum is growing quickly. Our spectrum location near the PCS bands should allow us to deploy cost effectively the terrestrial component of an ATC network by leveraging existing terrestrial wireless infrastructures and by adopting off-the-shelf infrastructure equipment to our spectrum bands. Further, we believe the ability of our current network to support ATC services will allow us to introduce new services and capabilities before our competitors.
The FCC has allocated a total of 40 MHz of spectrum at 2 GHz for mobile satellite services. This augments the mobile satellite services spectrum allocation at 1.6 and 2.4 GHz and 1.5 and 1.6 GHz. In 2001, we received a license to use a portion of this 2 GHz spectrum. In February 2003, the FCCs International Bureau cancelled our authorization based upon our alleged inability to meet future construction milestones and, in June 2004, the FCC affirmed this cancellation. We have asked for reconsideration of the cancellation. See Regulation2 GHz Spectrum.
We supply services and products to a number of foreign customers. Although most of our sales are denominated in U.S. dollars, we are exposed to currency risk for sales in Canada and Europe. For information on our revenue from sales to foreign and domestic customers, see Note 13 to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this Report.
Our satellite network includes 43 in-orbit low earth orbit satellites, including in-orbit spares temporarily placed into service and satellites that are temporarily out of service which may be restorable. The design of our orbital planes and the positioning of our ground stations ensure that generally at least two satellites are visible to subscribers for certain services, from any point on the earths surface between 70o north latitude to 70o south latitude, covering most of the worlds population. All of our satellites are virtually identical in design and manufacture, and each satellite contributes equally to the constellation performance, which allows satellite diversity for mitigation of service gaps from individual satellite outages. Our constellation currently orbits in a 40-satellite configuration which combines two different Walker pattern orbital configurations. Each satellite has a high degree of on-board subsystem redundancy, an on-board fault detection system and isolation and recovery for safe and quick risk mitigation. Our ability to
reconfigure the orbital location of each satellite provides us with operating flexibility and continuity of service. The design of our space and ground control system facilitates the real time intervention and management of the satellite constellation and service upgrades via hardware and software enhancements.
We believe our in-space constellation will provide a commercially acceptable quality of two way voice and data communications service through 2009, provided we are able to successfully mitigate our S-band anomaly described below. We have eight spare satellites which are being prepared for launch by Starsem, our launch vendor, in 2007 to augment our constellation. We plan to place the eight satellites into a constellation configuration which seeks to optimize our service at that time.
Due to the nature of our satellite constellation, we do not carry in-orbit insurance on our current satellite constellation. We have insured the launch of each of our eight spare satellites. We do not plan on insuring the spare satellites once they are safely in orbit. See Item 1A. Risk FactorsWe may not be able to launch our satellites successfully. Loss of a satellite during launch could delay or impair our ability to offer our services or reduce our revenues, and launch insurance, will not cover fully this risk for an additional discussion of insurance related considerations.
On November 30, 2006, we entered into a definitive contract with Alcatel to construct 48 low orbit satellites for our second-generation satellite constellation and to provide launch-related and operations support services. See Item 7. Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsContractual Obligations and Commitments.
Our satellites communicate with our network of 25 gateways, each of which serves an area of approximately 700,000 to 1,000,000 square miles. In addition to the eight satellites to be launched in 2007, we own spare parts for our gateways. We have in storage 28 complete and 3 partial antennas and 8 complete and 3 partial gateways. We selectively replace parts as necessary, and anticipate that this supply will sufficiently serve all of our gateway needs throughout the expected life of our existing satellite constellation.
Each of our gateways has multiple antennas that communicate with our satellites and pass calls seamlessly between antenna beams and satellites as the satellites traverse the gateways, thereby reflecting the signals from our users terminals to our gateways. Once a satellite acquires a signal from an end-user, the user is authenticated by the serving gateway and then the voice or data channel is established to complete the call to the public switched telephone network, to a cellular or another wireless network, or, in the case of a Simplex data call, to the internet.
We believe that our terrestrial gateways provide a number of advantages over the in-orbit switching used by our principal competitor, including better call quality and convenient regionalized local phone numbers for inbound calling. We also believe that our networks design, which relies on terrestrial gateways rather than in-orbit switching, enables faster and more cost-effective system maintenance and upgrades because the systems software and much of its hardware is based on the ground. Our multiple gateways allow us to reconfigure our system quickly to extend another gateways coverage to make up some or all of the coverage of a disabled gateway or to handle increased call capacity resulting from surges in demand.
Our network uses QUALCOMMs patented CDMA technology to permit dynamic selection of the strongest available signals. Patented receivers in our handsets track the pilot channel or signaling channel as well as three additional communications channels simultaneously. Compared to other satellite and network architectures, we offer superior call clarity, virtually no discernable delay and a low incidence of dropped calls. Our system architecture provides full frequency re-use. This maximizes diversity (which maximizes quality) and maximizes capacity as the assigned spectrum can be reused in every satellite beam in every satellite. Our network also works with internet protocol data for reliable transmission of IP
messages. We have a long-standing relationship with QUALCOMM for the manufacture of our phone handsets and data terminals.
Although our network is CDMA-based, it is configured so that we can also support one or more other air interfaces that we select in the future. For example, we have developed a non-QUALCOMM proprietary CDMA technology to offer Simplex data services. Because our satellites are essentially mirrors in the sky, and all of our networks switches and hardware are located on the ground, we can easily and relatively inexpensively modify our ground hardware and software to use other wave forms to meet customer demands for new and innovative services and products. At this time, we are developing several inexpensive additional products and services which will operate in this manner.
Old Globalstar started commercial service in 2000 with a 48-satellite constellation, four in-orbit spare satellites and eight spare satellites in storage. In response to satellite failures and anomalies, we reconfigured the satellite constellation in mid-2003 from a 48-satellite constellation to a 40-satellite constellation with in-orbit spares. We have maintained the eight orbital planes but now have five service satellites per plane. Call quality and call success rates, and thus the customers experience, were largely unaffected by these reconfigurations.
Our control phones located at selected gateways, which are placed in clear line of sight to the sky, make three-minute calls every 10 minutes and are used to recognize and pinpoint problems quickly if they occur on the system. A number of our satellites have experienced various anomalies over time, one of which is a degradation in the performance of the solid-state power amplifiers of the S-band communications antenna. See Item 7. Managements Discussion and AnalysisOverview: Constellation life and health.
Effective January 1, 2006, we consummated the purchase of all of the issued and outstanding stock of Globalstar Americas Holding (GAH), Globalstar Americas Telecommunications (GAT), and Astral Technologies Investment Limited (Astral), collectively, the GA Companies. The GA Companies owned assets, contract rights, and licenses to operate a satellite communications business in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize. We believe the purchase of the GA Companies will further enhance our presence and coverage in Central America and consolidation efforts. The stipulated purchase price for the GA Companies is $5,250,500 payable substantially 100% in our common stock. In December 2006, in accordance with the acquisition agreement, we issued approximately an additional 275,000 shares of our Common Stock to the selling stockholders of the GA Companies. See Note 3 to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this Report.
In February 2003, the FCC adopted rules that permit satellite service providers to establish ATC networks. ATC authorization enables the integration of a satellite-based service with terrestrial wireless services, resulting in a hybrid mobile satellite services/ATC network designed to provide advanced services and broad coverage throughout the United States. The ATC network would extend our services to urban areas and inside buildings where satellite services currently are impractical. We believe we are at the forefront of ATC development and are actively working to be among the first market entrants. For a description of the FCCs ATC rules and our authorization to provide ATC services, see RegulationUnited States FCC RegulationATC.
We expect that the equipment used for ATC would be very much like the equipment used in cellular and PCS networks. In demonstrations in New York and Washington D.C. in July 2002, we used a picocell to permit our satellite phones, operating at our frequencies, to be used both indoors (where satellite service is unavailable) through the modified picocell and outdoors through our satellites and ground stations. This demonstrated our ability to make and receive ATC calls using our mobile satellite services spectrum under the authority of an FCC experimental license.
ATC frequencies are designated in previously satellite-only bands at 1.5 GHz, 1.6 GHz, 2 GHz and 2.5 GHz. On January 20, 2006, we were granted authorization by the FCC to operate an ATC network initially over 11 MHz of our spectrum, divided into 5.5 MHz in the L-band and 5.5 MHz in the S-band. We have filed with the FCC for ATC authorization for all 27.85 MHz of our spectrum. Outside the United States, other countries are actively considering implementing regulations to facilitate ATC services. We are committed to pursuing ATC licenses in those jurisdictions as regulations are implemented and new revenue opportunities are presented and have begun this effort in Canada and Europe.
In keeping with the FCCs decision, ATC services must be complementary or ancillary to mobile satellite services in an integrated service offering, which can be achieved by using dual-mode handsets capable of transmitting and receiving mobile satellite services and ATC signals. Further, user subscriptions that include ATC services must also include mobile satellite subscription services. Because of these requirements, the number of potential early stage competitors in providing ATC services is limited, as only mobile satellite services operators who are offering commercial satellite services can provide ATC services. At the time we commence ATC operations, we must meet all of the FCCs authorization requirements, including an in-orbit spare requirement.
We believe we are uniquely positioned to benefit from the development of our ATC license given our existing in-orbit satellite fleet and ground stations and we may be among the first to introduce these services. Unlike several of our competitors, who need to launch new satellites and build ground facilities, our existing constellation and our ground stations with relatively minor modification, are technically capable of accommodating ATC operations. Even with high-bit rate applications, we believe that our network and spectrum are sufficient to meet the demanding band-width requirements of the current and next generation of wireless services.
We could offer the following terrestrial services, among others, with ATC:
· mobile voice
· mobile broadband data
· fixed broadband data
· voice over internet protocol, or VOIP
· multi-casting and broadcasting services for music and video
We are considering a range of options for rollout of our ATC services. We are exploring selective opportunities with a variety of media and communications companies to capture the full potential of our spectrum and ATC license.
Northern Sky Research has predicted that the ATC services market will account for 29% of in-service mobile satellite units and 16% of industry retail revenues by the end of 2010.
The global communications industry is highly competitive. We currently face substantial competition from other service providers that offer a range of mobile and fixed communications options. Our most direct competition comes from other global mobile satellite services providers. Our two largest global competitors are Inmarsat and Iridium. We compete primarily on the basis of coverage, quality, portability and pricing of services and products.
Inmarsat has been a provider of global communications services since 1982. Inmarsat owns and operates a fleet of geostationary satellites. Due to its geostationary system, Inmarsats coverage area extends and covers most bodies of water more completely than we do. Accordingly, Inmarsat is the leading provider of satellite communications services to the maritime sector. Inmarsat also offers global land-based and aeronautical communications services. Inmarsat generally does not sell directly to customers. Rather, it markets its products and services principally through a variety of distributors, including Stratos Global Corporation, Telenor Satellite Services, the France Telecom Group, KDDI Corporation and The SingTel Group, who, in most cases, sell to additional downstream entities who sell to the ultimate customer. We compete with Inmarsat in several key areas, particularly in our maritime markets. We believe that the size and functionality of our mobile handsets and data devices are superior to Inmarsats fixed units, which tend to be significantly bulkier and more cumbersome to operate. In addition, our products generally are substantially less expensive than those of Inmarsat.
Iridium owns and operates a fleet of low earth orbit satellites that is similar to our network of satellites. Iridium entered into bankruptcy protection in March 2000 and was out of service from March 2000 to January 2001. Since Iridium emerged from bankruptcy in 2001, we have faced increased competition from Iridium in some of our target markets. Iridium provides data and voice services at rates of up to 2.4 Kbps, which is approximately 25% of our uncompressed speed. Because Iridium switches calls between satellites, it is able to cover deep ocean areas that we cannot cover with our land-based gateways.
We compete with regional mobile satellite communications services in several markets. In these cases, our competitors serve customers who require regional, not global, mobile voice and data services, so our competitors present a viable alternative to our services. All of these competitors operate geostationary satellites. Our regional mobile satellite services competitors currently include Thuraya, principally in the Middle East and Africa; Asian Cellular Satellites in Asia; Mobile Satellite Ventures and Mobile Satellite Ventures Canada in the Americas; and Optus MobileSat in Australia.
In some of our markets, such as rural telephony, we compete directly or indirectly with very small aperture terminal operators that offer communications services through private networks using very small aperture terminals or hybrid systems to target business users. Very small aperture terminal operators have become increasingly competitive due to technological advances that have resulted in smaller, more flexible and cheaper terminals.
We compete indirectly with terrestrial wireline (landline) and wireless communications networks. We provide service in areas that are inadequately covered by these ground systems. To the extent that terrestrial communications companies invest in underdeveloped areas, we will face increased competition in those areas. We believe that local telephone companies currently are reluctant to invest in new switches and landlines to expand their networks in rural and remote areas due to high costs and to decreasing demand and subscriber line loss associated with wireless telephony. Many of the underdeveloped areas are sparsely populated so it would be difficult to generate the necessary returns on the capital expenditures required to build terrestrial wireless networks in such areas. We believe that our solutions offer a cost-effective and reliable alternative to ground-based wireline and wireless systems and that continued growth and utilization will allow us to further lower costs to consumers.
Our industry has significant barriers to entry, including the cost and difficulty associated with obtaining spectrum licenses and successfully building and launching a satellite network. In addition to cost, there is a significant amount of lead-time associated with obtaining the required licenses, designing and building the satellite constellation and synchronizing the network technology. We will continue to face competition from Inmarsat and Iridium and other businesses that have developed global mobile satellite communications services in particular regions. We will also face competition from incipient mobile satellite ATC services providers, such as TerresStar and ICOGlobal, who are currently designing a core satellite operating business and a terrestrial component around their spectrum holdings.
As of December 31, 2006, we had 343 full-time employees and six part-time employees, none of whom is subject to any collective bargaining agreement. We consider our employee relations to be good.
At December 31, 2006, we held 79 U.S. patents with 13 additional U.S. patents pending and 8 foreign patents with 9 additional foreign patents pending. These patents cover many aspects of our satellite system, our global network and our user terminals. In recent years, we have reduced our foreign filings and allowed some previously-granted foreign patents to lapse based on (a) the significance of the patent, (b) our assessment of the likelihood that someone would infringe in the foreign country, and (c) the probability that we could or would enforce the patent in light of the expense of filing and maintaining the foreign patent which, in some countries, is quite substantial. We continue to maintain all of our important patents in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Mobile Satellite Services Spectrum and Satellite Constellation.
Our satellite constellation and four U.S. gateways are licensed by the FCC. Our system is sometimes called a Big LEO (for low earth orbit) system.
We hold regulatory authorization for two pairs of frequencies on our current system: user links (from the user to the satellites, and vice versa) in the 1610 - 1621.35 and 2483.5 - 2500 MHz bands and feeder links (from the gateways to the satellites, and vice versa) in the 5091 - 5250 and 6875 - 7055 MHz bands. The FCC authorizes the operation of our satellite constellation and gateways and mobile phones in the United States. Gateways outside the United States are licensed by the respective national authorities.
Our subsidiary, GUSA Licensee LLC (GUSA), is authorized by the FCC to distribute mobile and fixed subscriber terminals and to operate gateways in the United States. GUSA holds the licenses for our gateways in Texas, Florida and Alaska. Another subsidiary, GCL Licensee LLC (GCL), holds an FCC license to operate a gateway in Puerto Rico. GCL is also subject to regulation by the Puerto Rican regulatory agency.
In January 2006, the FCC granted our application to add an ATC service to our existing mobile satellite services. ATC authorization enables the integration of a satellite-based service with terrestrial wireless services, resulting in a hybrid mobile satellite services/ATC network designed to provide advanced services and ubiquitous coverage throughout the United States. The FCC regulates mobile satellite services operators ability to provide ATC-related services, and our authorization is predicated on
compliance with and achievement of various gating criteria adopted by the FCC in February 2003 and summarized below.
· The mobile satellite services operator must demonstrate that its satellites are capable of providing substantial satellite service to all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and that its network can offer commercial mobile satellite services service to subscribers throughout that area. A mobile satellite services operator can provide ATC services only within its satellite footprint and within its assigned spectrum.
· Mobile satellite services and ATC services must be fully integrated either by supplying subscribers with dual-mode mobile satellite services/ATC handsets or otherwise showing that the ATC service is substantially integrated with the mobile satellite services service.
· Companies, including our company, that operate low earth orbit constellations must maintain an in-orbit spare satellite at the time that they initiate ATC service.
· The mobile satellite services operator may not offer ATC-only subscriptions.
In June 2006, we petitioned the FCC to authorize us to use all of our remaining spectrum for ATC services. Based upon the February 2003 FCC order adopting the ATC rules, we anticipate that the FCC will authorize us to use more of our spectrum for ATC service.
2 GHz Spectrum.
On July 17, 2001, the FCC granted us and seven other applicants authorizations to construct, launch and operate mobile satellite services systems in the 2 GHz mobile satellite services band, subject to strict milestone requirements. In the case of foreign-licensed applicants, the FCC reserved spectrum but required the foreign applicants to meet the same milestones as the domestic applicants. The FCC originally allocated 70 MHz (two 35 MHz paired blocks) of spectrum for this mobile satellite service but later reduced the allocation to 40 MHz (two 20 MHz paired blocks), reallocating 30 MHz to terrestrial wireless services. Each applicant received a base allocation of 3.5 MHz of paired spectrum with the opportunity to gain additional spectrum upon launch of its system. Systems were required to be constructed in compliance with certain milestones, the first of which was executing a non-contingent contract by July 17, 2002 for the construction of a system. We believe that we met this first milestone by entering into a non-contingent contract with Space Systems/Loral on July 16, 2002. Although we had not yet reached subsequent milestone dates, we requested the FCC to grant certain waivers of later milestones. On January 30, 2003, the FCCs International Bureau denied our waivers and declared our 2 GHz license to be null and void. In June 2004, the FCC declined to reverse that decision, and we requested reconsideration, which request remains pending. Subsequently, all but two of the other licensees (TMI/TerreStar, a Canadian company licensed by Industry Canada, and ICO Global Communications, a company licensed in the U.K.) either surrendered their licenses or had them cancelled. In June 2005, the FCC requested public comment on whether it should divide the remaining 40 MHz of mobile satellite services spectrum between the two remaining foreign licensees, reallocate some of the spectrum to other uses or accept new applications. We argued that the FCC should retain all of the spectrum for mobile satellite services, reinstate our cancelled 2 GHz license, and grant each of us, TMI/TerreStar and ICO Global Communications one-third of the 40 MHz.
On December 9, 2005, the FCC decided to retain a 40 MHz allocation for mobile satellite services but to reserve it all for TMI/TerreStar and ICO Global Communication, both of which are non-U.S. corporations, although the reservation was made expressly subject to the outcome of our request for reconsideration of the invalidation of our 2 GHz license. We believe that this action by the FCC reserving all of the spectrum for two companies is inconsistent with the facts and law and have petitioned the FCC to reconsider its decision. The FCC has not yet acted on our petition. If the FCC adheres to this decision, we
expect to pursue our available legal remedies, including appealing the FCCs decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. We do not believe that our existing operations or plans for the introduction of ATC services or for a second-generation satellite constellation will be adversely impacted if the 2 GHz license is not reinstated; however, reinstatement would increase our value and potential revenues and profitability.
In July 2004, the FCC issued a decision giving Iridium shared access to the 1618.25 - 1621.35 MHz portion of our 1610 - 1621.35 MHz band. We share this portion of the band with Iridium on a co-primary basis for uplink usage, but we retain priority and are primary with respect to the downlink usage in this band. Previously, Iridium had exclusive access to 1621.35 - 1626.5 MHz, and, except for the requirement to protect certain radio astronomy operations, we had exclusive access to 1610 - 1621.35 MHz, subject to the possible future development of new CDMA-based systems compatible with ours. We have requested reconsideration of certain portions of this decision, including the specific frequencies that must be shared with Iridium and the technical requirements that will govern the sharing. The FCC has not yet acted on our request. Iridium has sought to extend the sharing over an additional 2.25 MHz of our spectrum, which we have vigorously opposed. We cannot predict whether the FCC will grant Iridiums request for more shared spectrum.
Also in the July 2004 decision, the FCC stated it expects us and Iridium to reach a mutually acceptable coordination agreement. In the same decision, the FCC required us to share the 2496 - 2500 MHz portion of our downlink spectrum with certain Broadband Radio Service fixed wireless licensees and with about 100 grandfathered Broadcast Auxiliary Service licensees. We expect the latter to be relocated out of the band by about 2009. Although we and others requested reconsideration of certain of the rules that will govern our sharing with these Broadband Radio Service and Broadcast Auxiliary Service licensees, the FCC affirmed this portion of its decision in an order issued in April 2006. Certain parties have filed further requests with the FCC for reconsideration of this decision, which we have opposed. In addition, on July 21, 2006, Sprint Nextel Corporation (Sprint Nextel) one of the largest Broadband Radio Service licensees, filed an appeal of the FCCs decision to relocate them to the 2496-2500 MHz band with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. On December 6, 2006, the court granted FCCs motion to hold the case in abeyance. Although we have filed a motion to intervene in the case, it is unclear whether, and if so, to what extent a court decision in favor of Sprint Nextel would have an impact on our spectrum rights.
Our system operates in frequencies which were allocated on an international basis for mobile satellite services user links and mobile satellite services feeder links. We are required to engage in international coordination procedures with other proposed mobile satellite services systems under the aegis of the International Telecommunications Union. We believe that we have met all of our obligations to coordinate our system.
In order to operate gateways, the independent gateway operators and our affiliates in each country are required to obtain a license from that countrys telecommunications regulatory authority. In addition, the gateway operator must enter into appropriate interconnection and financial settlement agreements with local and interexchange telecommunications providers. All 25 gateways operated by us and the independent gateway operators are licensed. An independent gateway operator in South Africa, Vodacom, was unable to secure a license to activate and operate the gateway in that country and turned the gateway over to Telkom, the South African telephone company, in settlement of debts. We have initiated efforts to reestablish the business in South Africa through our own subsidiary. In May 2006, we obtained an
operating license that allows us to provide service in South Africa but not to operate the gateway itself. We are continuing to seek a qualified gateway operator.
Our subscriber equipment generally must be type certified in countries in which it is sold or leased. The manufacturers of the equipment and our affiliates or the independent gateway operators are jointly responsible for securing type certification. Thus far, our equipment has received type certification in each country in which that certification was required.
The United States International Traffic in Arms regulations under the United States Arms Export Control Act authorize the President of the United States to control the export and import of articles and services that can be used in the production of arms. The President has delegated this authority to the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. Among other things, these regulations limit the ability to export certain articles and related technical data to certain nations. Some information involved in the performance of our operations falls within the scope of these regulations. As a result, we may have to obtain an export authorization or restrict access to that information by international companies that are our vendors or service providers. We have received and expect to continue to receive export licenses for our telemetry and control equipment located outside the United States and for providing technical data to potential launch contractors and developers of our next generation of satellites.
We are subject to various laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment and human health and safety (including those governing the management, storage and disposal of hazardous materials). Some of our operations require continuous power supply and, as a result, current and past operations at our teleport and other technical facilities include fuel storage and batteries for back-up generators. As an owner or operator of property and in connection with current and historical operations at some of our sites, we could incur significant costs, including cleanup costs, fines, sanctions and third-party claims, as a result of violations of or liabilities under environmental laws and regulations.
We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC). You may read and copy any document we file with the SEC at the SECs public reference room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for information on the public reference room. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy and information statements and other information that issuers (including Globalstar) file electronically with the SEC. Our electronic SEC filings are available to the public at the SECs internet site, www.sec.gov.
We make available financial information, news releases, SEC filings and other information on our website at www.globalstar.com. The documents available on our website are not incorporated by reference into this Report.
You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as all of the information in this Report and our other past and future filings with the SEC, in evaluating and understanding us and our business. Additional risks not presently known or that we currently deem immaterial may also impact our business operations and the risks identified below may adversely affect our business in ways we do not currently anticipate. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks.
Our satellites have a limited life and may fail prematurely, which would cause our network to be compromised and materially and adversely affect our business, prospects and profitability.
Since the first Old Globalstar satellites were launched in 1998, nine have failed in orbit, and others may fail in the future. In-orbit failure may result from various causes, including component failure, loss of power or fuel, inability to control positioning of the satellite, solar or other astronomical events, including solar radiation and flares, and space debris. As our constellation has aged, the quality of our satellites signals has diminished, and may continue to diminish, adversely affecting the reliability of our service, which could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flow and financial condition. Although we do not incur any direct cash costs related to the failure of a satellite, if a satellite fails, we record an impairment charge reflecting its net book value. There are some remote tools we use to remedy certain types of problems affecting the performance of our satellites, but the physical repair of satellites in space is not feasible. We do not insure our satellites against in-orbit failures, whether such failures are caused by internal or external factors.
We have been advised by our customers and others of temporary intermittent losses of signal cutting off calls in progress or preventing completions of calls when made. If these problems increase, they could affect adversely our business and our ability to complete our business plan.
Other factors that could affect the useful lives of our satellites include the quality of construction, gradual degradation of solar panels and the durability of components. Radiation induced failure of satellite components may result in damage to or loss of a satellite before the end of its currently expected life. As a result, some of our in-orbit satellites may not be fully functioning at any time.
Old Globalstar launched our first-generation constellation beginning in 1998 and ending in 2000. Eight of our nine satellite failures have been attributed to common anomalies in the satellite communications subsystem S-band antenna. The ninth satellites failure was attributed to an anomaly with the satellite command receiver. The S-band antenna provides the downlink from the satellite to a subscribers phone or data terminal. Degraded performance of the S-band antenna reduces the quality of two-way voice and data communication between the affected satellites and the subscriber and may reduce the duration of a call. If the S-band antenna on a satellite ceases to be commercially functional, two-way communication is impossible over that satellite, but not necessarily over the constellation as a whole. The root cause of the degradation in performance of the amplifiers is unknown, although we believe it may result from irradiation of the satellites in orbit. The S-band antenna amplifier degradation does not affect adversely our one-way Simplex data transmission services, which utilize only the L-band uplink from a subscribers Simplex terminal to the satellites.
To date, we have managed the degradation of the S-band antenna amplifiers in various technical ways, as well as by placing into service spare satellites already in orbit and moving unimpaired satellites to key orbital positions. To maintain the highest possible capacity and best possible quality of service in light of this problem and to prepare for the integration of the eight satellites to be launched in 2007, on February 2, 2007, we completed the reconfiguration of our satellite constellation to combine two different Walker configurations, which continue to operate as a single constellation of 40 satellites plus in-orbit spares. When launched, the eight additional satellites will be utilized to augment the constellation until the
second generation satellites are available for service, which we currently project will be launched beginning in late 2009.
In early 2006, we undertook a comprehensive third party review of the S-band antenna amplifier problem and the likely impact of the degradation of performance of these amplifiers in individual satellites on the performance of the constellation as a whole. At that time, based in part on the third-party report, we concluded that, although there was risk, with the addition of the eight spare satellites in 2007, the constellation would continue to provide commercially viable two-way communication services until the next generation satellites begin to be launched in 2009. Based on data recently collected from satellite operations, we have concluded that the degradation of the S-band functionality for commercial service is now occurring at a rate that is faster than previously experienced and faster than we had previously anticipated. In response, in consultation with outside experts, we have implemented innovative methods, and plan to continue to implement additional corrective measures, to attempt to ameliorate this problem, including modifying the configuration of our constellation as described above, and thereby extend the life of the two-way communication capacity of the constellation. Nonetheless, to date we have been unable to correct the amplifier problem and may be unable to do so.
Based on our most recent analysis, we now believe that, if the degradation of the S-band antenna amplifiers continues at the current rate or further accelerates, and if we are unsuccessful in developing additional technical solutions, the quality of two-way communications services will decline, and by some time in 2008 substantially all of our currently in-orbit satellites will cease to be able to support two-way communications services. As the number of in-orbit satellites (but not the eight spare satellites scheduled to be launched in 2007) with properly functioning S-band antenna decreases, despite a successful launch and optimized placement in orbit of the eight spare satellites in 2007, increasingly larger coverage gaps will recur over areas in which we currently provide two-way communication services. Subscriber service will continue to be available, but at certain times in any given location it will take substantially longer to establish calls and the average duration of calls may be impacted adversely.
We are working on plans, including new products and services and pricing programs, and exploring the feasibility of accelerating procurement and launch of our second-generation satellite constellation, to attempt to reduce the effects of this problem upon our customers and operations. We will be able to forecast the duration of service coverage at any particular location in our service area and we intend to make this information available without charge to our service providers, including our 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. We are also reviewing our business plan in light of these developments.
Implementation of our business plan depends on increased demand for wireless communications services via satellite, both for our existing services and products and for new services and products. If this increased demand does not occur, our revenues and profitability may not increase as we expect.
Demand for wireless communication services via satellite may not grow, or may even shrink, either generally or in particular geographic markets, for particular types of services, or during particular time periods. A lack of demand could impair our ability to sell our services and to develop and successfully market new services, could exert downward pressure on prices, or both. This, in turn, could decrease our revenues and profitability and our ability to increase our revenues and profitability over time.
We are licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide an ancillary terrestrial component, known as ATC services, in combination with our existing communication services. If we can integrate ATC services with our existing business, we will be able to use the spectrum currently licensed to us to provide telecommunications through both our satellite and ground station system and through a terrestrial-based cellular-like system. If successful, this will allow us to address a broader market for our products and services by allowing us to provide communications services where satellite-based
service is impractical, such as in urban areas and inside buildings, thereby increasing our revenue and profitability and the value of our licenses. However, neither we nor any other company has yet successfully integrated ATC services with satellite services, and we may be unable to do so. If we fail to do so, we will not obtain the benefits described above and any investment we make in developing ATC services will be lost.
The success of our business plan, including the integration of ATC services within our existing business, will depend on a number of factors, including:
· the level of market acceptance and demand for all of our services;
· our ability to introduce new services and products that meet this market demand;
· our ability to obtain additional business using our existing spectrum resources both in the United States and internationally;
· our ability to control the costs of developing an integrated network providing related products and services;
· our ability to integrate our satellite services with ATC services, to develop our second-generation satellites, and to upgrade our ground facilities consistent with various regulations governing ownership and operation of satellite assets and ATC services;
· our ability to partner with others, if necessary, to maximize the value of our ATC license;
· our ability to develop and deploy innovative network management techniques to permit mobile devices to transition between satellite and terrestrial modes;
· our ability to maintain the health, capacity and control of our existing satellite network, including the successful launch of the eight spare satellites;
· our ability to complete the design, construction, delivery and launch of our second-generation satellites and, once launched, our ability to maintain their health, capacity and control; and
· the effectiveness of our competitors in developing and offering similar services and products.
We depend in large part on the efforts of third parties for the retail sale of our services and products. The inability of these third parties to sell our services and products successfully may decrease our revenue and profitability.
For the year ended December 31, 2006, over 90% of our revenue was derived from products and services sold through independent agents, dealers and resellers, including, outside the United States, independent gateway operators. If these third parties are unable to continue to improve their ability to market our products and services successfully, our revenue and profitability may decrease.
We depend on independent gateway operators to market our services in important regions around the world. If the independent gateway operators are unable to do this successfully, we will not be able to grow our business in those areas as rapidly as we expect.
Although we derive most of our revenue from retail sales to end users in the United States, Canada, a portion of Western Europe, Central America and the northern portion of South America, either directly or through agents, dealers and resellers, we depend on independent gateway operators to purchase, install, operate and maintain gateway equipment, to sell phones and data user terminals, and to market our services in other regions where these independent gateway operators hold exclusive or non-exclusive rights. Not all of the independent gateway operators have been successful and, in some regions, they have not initiated service or sold as much usage as originally anticipated. Some of the independent gateway operators are not earning revenues sufficient to fund their operating costs. Although we have implemented
a strategy for the acquisition of certain independent gateway operators when circumstances permit, we may not be able to continue to implement this strategy on favorable terms and may not be able to realize the additional efficiencies that we anticipate from this strategy. In some regions it is impracticable to consolidate the independent gateway operators either because local regulatory requirements or business or cultural norms do not permit consolidation, because the expected revenue increase from consolidation would be insufficient to justify the transaction, or because the independent gateway operator will not sell at a price acceptable to us. In those regions, our revenue and profits may be adversely affected if those independent gateway operators do not fulfill their own business plans to increase substantially their sales of services and products.
We currently are unable to offer service in important regions of the world due to the absence of gateways in those areas, which is limiting our growth and our ability to compete.
Our objective is to establish a worldwide service network, either directly or through independent gateway operators, but to date we have been unable to do so in certain areas of the world and we may not succeed in doing so in the future. We have been unable to find capable independent gateway operators for several important regions and countries, including Central and South Africa, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, the Philippines and certain other parts of Southeast Asia. In addition to the lack of global service availability, cost-effective roaming is not yet available in certain countries because the independent gateway operators have been unable to reach business arrangements with one another. This could reduce overall demand for our products and services and undermine our value for potential users who require service in these areas.
Rapid and significant technological changes in the satellite communications industry may impair our competitive position and require us to make significant additional capital expenditures.
The hardware and software utilized in operating our gateways were designed and manufactured over 10 years ago and portions are becoming obsolete. As they continue to age, they may become less reliable and will be more difficult and expensive to service. Although we maintain inventories of spare parts, it nonetheless may be difficult or impossible to obtain all necessary replacement parts for the hardware. Our business plan contemplates updating or replacing this hardware and software, but we may not be successful in these efforts, and the cost may exceed our estimates. We expect to face competition in the future from companies using new technologies and new satellite systems. The space and communications industries are subject to rapid advances and innovations in technology. New technology could render our system obsolete or less competitive by satisfying consumer demand in more attractive ways or through the introduction of incompatible standards. Particular technological developments that could adversely affect us include the deployment by our competitors of new satellites with greater power, greater flexibility, greater efficiency or greater capabilities, as well as continuing improvements in terrestrial wireless technologies. For us to keep up with technological changes and remain competitive, we may need to make significant capital expenditures. Customer acceptance of the services and products that we offer will continually be affected by technology-based differences in our product and service offerings. New technologies may be protected by patents or other intellectual property laws and therefore may not be available to us.
If we are unable to deploy our second-generation satellite constellation before our current satellite constellation ceases to provide commercially viable service, we will incur a decline in revenues and profitability.
We plan to deploy our second-generation satellite constellation beginning in 2009. If we are unable for any reason, including manufacturing or launch delays, launch failures, delays in receiving regulatory approvals or insufficient funds, to deploy our second-generation constellation before our current constellation ceases to provide commercially viable service, we are likely to lose subscribers, and will incur a decline in revenues and profitability as our ability to provide commercially viable service declines.
Furthermore, we plan to fund the acquisition and deployment of the second-generation satellite constellation in large part with internally generated cash flows. If those internally generated cash flows drop significantly, we will need to obtain outside capital to complete our business plan. We have not arranged this financing and may not be able to so on acceptable terms.
A natural disaster could diminish our ability to provide communications service.
Although our experience during the Hurricane Katrina in 2005 showed the reliability and versatility of our system, natural disasters could damage or destroy our ground stations resulting in a disruption of service to our customers. We currently have the technology to safeguard our antennas and protect our ground stations during natural disasters such as a hurricane, but the collateral effects of such disasters such as flooding may impair the functioning of our ground equipment. If a future natural disaster impairs or destroys any of our ground facilities, we may be unable to provide service to our customers in the affected area for a period of time.
In addition, even if our gateways are not affected by natural disasters, our service could be disrupted if a natural disaster damages the public switch telephone network or our ability to connect to the public switch telephone network. We were able to make the necessary adjustments during Hurricane Katrina because the public networks serving our gateways in Texas and Florida were not damaged.
We may not be able to launch our satellites successfully. Loss of a satellite during launch could delay or impair our ability to offer our services or reduce our revenues and launch insurance will not cover fully this risk.
We intend to insure the launch of our eight spare satellites to supplement our existing low earth orbit constellation, but we do not insure our existing satellites during their remaining in-orbit operational lives. We anticipate our eight spare satellites will be launched in 2007 on two rockets, each carrying four satellites. Launch insurance currently costs approximately 6.4% of the insured value of the satellite (including launch costs). Even though a lost satellite is fully insured, acquiring a replacement satellite for any of these eight spares is not feasible prior to the launch of our second generation beginning in 2009. Furthermore, the insurance does not cover lost revenue.
Our launch failure insurance policy includes specified exclusions, deductibles and material change limitations. Some (but not all) exclusions include damage arising from acts of war, anti-satellite devices and other similar potential risks for which exclusions are customary in the industry at the time the policy was written.
Our business plan includes exploiting our ATC license by combining ATC services with our existing business. If we are unable to accomplish this effectively, our anticipated future revenues and profitability will be reduced and we will lose our investment in developing ATC services.
We plan to integrate ATC services with our existing satellite services and products, initially using our existing communications network, while developing a second-generation satellite network and upgrading our existing ground facilities. To date, neither we nor any other company has developed an integrated commercial network combining satellite services with ATC services, and we may be unable to do so.
Northern Sky Research estimates that development of a terrestrial network to provide ATC services could cost $2.5 to $3.0 billion in the United States alone. Therefore, full exploitation of our ATC opportunity probably will require us to form partnerships, service contracts or other joint venture arrangements with other telecommunications or spectrum-based service providers. We may not be able to establish such arrangements at all or on favorable terms and, if such arrangements are established, the other parties may not fulfill their obligations. If we are unable to form a suitable partnership or enter into a service contract or joint venture agreement, we may not be able to realize our plan to offer ATC services, which would limit our ability to expand our business and reduce our revenues and profitability. In addition,
in such event we will lose any resources we have invested in developing ATC services, which may be substantial.
ATC spectrum access is limited by regulatory and technological factors. If we are unable to work within these limitations, our anticipated future revenues and profitability will be reduced, and we could lose all or much of our investment in developing ATC services.
We have been granted authority to use a finite quantity of radio spectrum for ATC services. Our ATC license currently is limited to 11 MHz, i.e., 5.5 MHz of spectrum in each of the L and S bands. Any ATC use of more than 11 MHz of spectrum would require a change in or waiver of FCC rules. While we have applied for a change in the rules, no such change may occur. In addition, our authority to provide ATC services is contingent on our continuing to offer satellite services to our customers and having a usable in-orbit spare satellite at the time we begin to offer ATC services. Accordingly, we must continue to provide communication between our satellites and the gateways when we commence providing ATC services through our network. If we are not able to manage our satellite and ATC spectrum use dynamically and efficiently, we may not be able to realize the full value of our ATC license.
The FCC rules governing ATC are relatively new and are subject to interpretation. These rules require ATC service providers to demonstrate that their mobile satellite and ATC services constitute an integrated service offering. The FCC has indicated that one means of meeting this requirement is through the use of dual-mode mobile satellite services/ATC handset phones. Although we believe we can obtain and sell dual-mode mobile satellite services/ATC handset phones that will comply with the ATC rules, the scope of ATC services that we will be permitted and required to provide under our existing FCC license is unclear and we may be required to seek amendments to our ATC license to execute our business plan. The development and operation of our ATC system may also infringe on unknown and unidentified intellectual property rights of other persons, which could require us to modify our business plan, thereby increasing our development costs and slowing our time to market. If we are unable to meet the regulatory requirements applicable to ATC services or develop or acquire the required technology, we may not be able to realize our plan to offer ATC services, which would decrease our revenues and profitability.
If the FCC were to reduce our existing spectrum allocation or impose additional spectrum-sharing requirements on us, our services and operations could be adversely affected.
Under the FCCs plan for mobile satellite services in our frequency bands, we must share frequencies in the United States with other licensed mobile satellite services operators. To date, there are no other authorized CDMA-based mobile satellite services operators and no pending applications for authorization. However, there is a potential German CDMA system called Courier which may be built and which may use our frequencies. In July 2004, the FCC released rules which require us to share 3.1 MHz of the 1610.25 to 1621.35 MHz portion of our uplink band with Iridium and the 2496 to 2500 MHz portion of our downlink band with terrestrial operators providing broadband radio service. The FCC also asked for comment on whether Iridium should be allowed to share the 1616 to 1618.25 MHz portion of the 1.6 GHz band. Although we have continued to contest vigorously any proposed additional sharing of our spectrum, we may not retain exclusive use of all of our existing spectrum. If we are required to share additional frequency bands or if Iridium or an operator of a CDMA system uses these frequencies, it may reduce our usable capacity and thereby decrease the value of our spectrum.
Spectrum values historically have been volatile, which could cause the value of our company to fluctuate.
Our business plan is evolving and it may include forming strategic partnerships to maximize value for our spectrum, network assets and combined service offerings in the United States and internationally. Values that we may be able to realize from such partnerships will depend in part on the value ascribed to our spectrum. Valuations of spectrum in other frequency bands historically have been volatile, and we
cannot predict at what amount a future partner may be willing to value our spectrum and other assets. In addition, to the extent that the FCC takes action that makes additional spectrum available or promotes the more flexible use or greater availability (e.g., via spectrum leasing or new spectrum sales) of existing satellite or terrestrial spectrum allocations, the availability of such additional spectrum could reduce the value of our spectrum authorizations, the value of our business and the price of our common stock.
We could lose market share and revenues as a result of increasing competition from companies in the wireless communications industry, including other satellite operators, and from the extension of land-based communication services.
We face intense competition in all of our markets, which could result in a loss of customers and lower revenues and make it more difficult for us to enter new markets.
There are currently five other satellite operators providing services similar to ours on a global or regional basis: Iridium, Inmarsat, Mobile Satellite Ventures, Thuraya and Asian Cellular Satellites. In addition, ICO Global Communications Company and TMI/TerreStar plan to launch their new satellite systems within the next few years. The provision of satellite-based products and services is subject to downward price pressure when the capacity exceeds demand.
In April 2001, Iridium, our principal worldwide mobile satellite competitor, exited bankruptcy and resumed commercial service in competition with us. Iridium has a long-term contract from the United States Department of Defense. ICO Global Communications is expected to complete its system and compete with us in the future. TMI/TerreStar also holds a 2 GHz satellite license and is constructing a system that may compete with us in the future. In addition, we may face competition from new competitors or new technologies, which may materially adversely affect our business plan. With so many companies targeting many of the same customers, we may not be able to retain successfully our existing customers and attract new customers and as a result may not grow our customer base and revenue as much as we expect.
In addition to our satellite-based competitors, terrestrial wireless voice and data service providers are expanding into rural and remote areas and providing the same general types of services and products that we provide through our satellite-based system. Many of these companies have greater resources, wider name recognition and newer technologies than we do. Industry consolidation could adversely affect us by increasing the scale or scope of our competitors and thereby making it more difficult for us to compete.
Although satellite communications services and ground-based communications services are not perfect substitutes, the two compete in certain markets and for certain services. Consumers generally perceive wireless voice communication products and services as cheaper and more convenient than satellite-based ones.
Additionally, the extension of terrestrial telecommunications services to regions previously underserved or not served by wireline or wireless services may reduce demand for our service in those regions. These land-based telecommunications services have been built more quickly than we anticipated; therefore, demand for our products and services may decline in these areas more rapidly than we assumed in formulating our business plan. This development has led, in part, to our efforts to identify and sell into geographically remote and certain vertical markets and further the deployment of user terminals and data products. If we are unable to attract new customers in these regions, our customer base may decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
The loss of customers, particularly our large customers, may reduce our future revenues.
We may lose customers due to competition, consolidation, regulatory developments, business developments affecting our customers or their customers, more rapid than anticipated degradation of our
constellation or for other reasons. Our top 10 customers for the year ended December 31, 2006 accounted for, in the aggregate, approximately 22% of our total revenues of $136.7 million. For the year ended December 31, 2006, revenues from our largest customer were $5.4 million, or 3.9% of our total revenues. If we fail to maintain our relationships with our major customers, if we lose them and fail to replace them with other similar customers, or if we experience reduced demand from our major customers, it could result in a significant reduction in our profitability through the loss of revenues and the requirement to record additional costs to the extent that amounts due from these customers are considered uncollectible. More generally, our customers may fail to renew or may cancel their service contracts with us, which could negatively affect future revenues and profitability.
Our customers include multiple agencies of the U.S. government. Service sales to U.S. government agencies constituted approximately 20% of our GUSA revenue for the year ended December 31, 2006. Government sales are made pursuant to individual purchase orders placed from time to time by the governmental agencies and are not related to long-term contracts. U.S. government agencies may terminate their business with us at any time without penalty.
We may need additional capital to maintain our network and to pursue future growth opportunities. If we fail to obtain sufficient capital, we will not be able to complete our business plan.
Our business plan calls for the launch of spare and new satellites, upgrading our ground stations, phones and data terminals and entering into joint ventures to develop ATC and other international services and products. We believe the net proceeds from our initial public offering, together with cash on hand, cash generated from our operations (which is dependent on continued health of our constellation) and cash available under our credit agreement and irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement, will be sufficient to enable us to implement our business plan. If we are wrong, we may not be able to obtain in a timely manner sufficient funds to develop and launch such satellites, upgrade our ground component or develop our ATC services and products. If we do not generate the amount of cash we expect from our operations or do not receive the entire remaining commitment from the irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement with Thermo Funding Company, we will not be able to complete our current business plan, and will be required to revise the plan to one that can be accomplished with our available capital, which could make us less competitive and reduce our future revenue and profitability.
Our business is subject to extensive government regulation, which mandates how we may operate our business and may increase our cost of providing services, slow our expansion into new markets and subject our services to additional competitive pressures.
Our ownership and operation of wireless communication systems are subject to significant regulation in the United States by the FCC and in foreign jurisdictions by similar local authorities. The rules and regulations of the FCC or these foreign authorities may change and not continue to permit our operations as presently conducted or as we plan to conduct such operations. For example, the FCC cancelled and has refused, to date, to reinstate our license for spectrum in the 2 GHz band.
Failure to provide services in accordance with the terms of our licenses or failure to operate our satellites or ground stations as required by our licenses and applicable government regulations could result in the imposition of government sanctions on us, up to and including cancellation of our licenses.
Our system must be authorized in each of the markets in which we or the independent gateway operators provide service. We and the independent gateway operators may not be able to obtain or retain all regulatory approvals needed for operations. For example, the company with which Old Globalstar contracted to establish an independent gateway operation in South Africa was unable to obtain an operating license from the Republic of South Africa and abandoned the business in 2001. Regulatory changes, such as those resulting from judicial decisions or adoption of treaties, legislation or regulation in
countries where we operate or intend to operate, may also significantly affect our business. Because regulations in each country are different, we may not be aware if some of the independent gateway operators and/or persons with which we or they do business do not hold the requisite licenses and approvals.
Our current regulatory approvals could now be, or could become, insufficient in the view of foreign regulatory authorities, any additional necessary approvals may not be granted on a timely basis, or at all, in all jurisdictions in which we wish to offer services, and applicable restrictions in those jurisdictions could become unduly burdensome.
Our operations are subject to certain regulations of the United States State Departments Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (i.e., the export of satellites and related technical data), United States Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control (i.e., financial transactions) and the United States Commerce Departments Bureau of Industry and Security (i.e., our gateways and phones). These regulations may limit or delay our ability to operate in a particular country. As new laws and regulations are issued, we may be required to modify our business plans or operations. If we fail to comply with these regulations in any country, we could be subject to sanctions that could affect, materially and adversely, our ability to operate in that country. Failure to obtain the authorizations necessary to use our assigned radio frequency spectrum and to distribute our products in certain countries could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue and on our overall competitive position.
If we do not develop, acquire and maintain proprietary information and intellectual property rights, it could limit the growth of our business and reduce our market share.
Our business depends on technical knowledge, and we believe that our future success is based, in part, on our ability to keep up with new technological developments and incorporate them in our products and services. We own or have the right to use certain of our work products, inventions, designs, software, systems and similar know-how. Although we have taken diligent steps to protect that information, the information may be disclosed to others or others may independently develop similar information, systems and know-how. Protection of our information, systems and know-how may result in litigation, the cost of which could be substantial. Third parties may assert claims that our products or services infringe on their proprietary rights. Any such claims, if made, may prevent or limit our sales of products or services or increase our costs of sales. Although no third party has filed a lawsuit or asserted a written claim against us for allegedly infringing on its proprietary rights, such claims could be made in the future.
Much of the software we require to support critical gateway operations and customer service functions, including billing, is licensed from third parties, including QUALCOMM and Space Systems/Loral Inc., and was developed or customized specifically for our use. If the third party licensors were to cease to support and service the software, or the licenses were to no longer be available on commercially reasonable terms, it may be difficult, expensive or impossible to obtain such services from alternative vendors. Replacing such software could be difficult, time consuming and expensive, and might require us to obtain substitute technology with lower quality or performance standards or at a greater cost.
We face special risks by doing business in developing markets, including currency and expropriation risks, which could increase our costs or reduce our revenues in these areas.
Although our most economically important geographic markets currently are the United States and Canada, we have substantial markets for our mobile satellite services in developing countries or regions that are underserved by existing telecommunications systems, such as rural Venezuela and Central America. Developing countries are more likely than industrialized countries to experience market, currency and interest rate fluctuations and may have higher inflation. In addition, these countries present
risks relating to government policy, price, wage and exchange controls, social instability, expropriation and other adverse economic, political and diplomatic conditions.
Although a majority of our revenues are received in U.S. dollars, and our independent gateway operators are required to pay us in U.S. dollars, limited availability of U.S. currency in some local markets or governmental controls on the export of currency may prevent an independent gateway operator from making payments in U.S. dollars or delay the availability of payment due to foreign bank currency processing and approval. In addition, exchange rate fluctuations may affect our ability to control the prices charged for the independent gateway operators services.
Fluctuations in currency exchange rates may adversely impact our financial results.
Our operations involve transactions in a variety of currencies. Sales denominated in foreign currencies primarily involve the Canadian dollar and the Euro. The contract for the launch of our eight spare satellites and a substantial majority of our obligations, including the funds held in escrow to secure our payment obligations, under the contract for our second-generation constellation are denominated in Euros. Accordingly, our operating results may be significantly affected by fluctuations in the exchange rates for these currencies. Approximately 33% of our total sales were to customers in Canada, Europe and Venezuela during the year ended December 31, 2006. Our results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2006 reflected a loss of $4.0 million on foreign currency transactions. Our exposure to fluctuations in currency exchange rates has increased significantly as a result of our two satellite contracts. We may be unable to offset unfavorable currency movements as they adversely effect our revenue and expenses or to hedge them effectively. Our inability to do so could have a substantial negative impact on our operating results and cash flows.
If we become subject to unanticipated foreign tax liabilities, it could materially increase our costs.
We operate in various foreign tax jurisdictions. We believe that we have complied in all material respects with our obligations to pay taxes in these jurisdictions. However, our position is subject to review and possible challenge by the taxing authorities of these jurisdictions. If the applicable taxing authorities were to challenge successfully our current tax positions, or if there were changes in the manner in which we conduct our activities, we could become subject to material unanticipated tax liabilities. We may also become subject to additional tax liabilities as a result of changes in tax laws, which could in certain circumstances have retroactive effect.
We rely on a limited number of key vendors for timely supply of equipment and services. If our key vendors fail to provide equipment and services to us, we may face difficulties in finding alternative sources and may not be able to operate our business successfully.
We depend on QUALCOMM for gateway hardware and software, and also as the exclusive manufacturer of phones using the IS-41 CDMA North American standard, which incorporates QUALCOMM proprietary technology. Ericsson OMC Limited and Telit, which until 2000 manufactured phones and other products for us, have discontinued manufacturing these products, and QUALCOMM may choose to terminate its business relationship with us when its current contractual obligations are completed in approximately three years. If QUALCOMM terminates this relationship, we may not be able to find a replacement supplier. Although the QUALCOMM relationship might be replaced, there could be a substantial period of time in which our products are not available and any new relationship may involve a significantly different cost structure, development schedule and delivery times.
We depend on Axonn L.L.C. (Axonn) to produce and sell the data modems through which we provide our Simplex service. These devices incorporate Axonn proprietary technology. If Axonn were to cease producing and selling these data modems, in order to continue to expand our Simplex service, we
would either have to acquire from Axonn the right to have the modems manufactured by another vendor or develop a modem that did not rely on Axonns proprietary technology. We have no long-term contract with Axonn for the production and sale of these data modems.
Space Systems/Loral manufactured our eight spare satellites, all of which are being prepared for launch in 2007. Those satellites were acquired by Old Globalstar in 2003, as part of a settlement with Loral, and are now owned by us. We are dependent on third parties to test, prepare for launch and provide certain services in support of the launch of our spare satellites. We have contracted with Starsem to launch these satellites. We expect the cost of testing and launching these eight spare satellites (including launch insurance) to be approximately $120.0 million.
On November 30, 2006, we entered into an agreement with Alcatel to construct 48 low earth orbit satellites for our second-generation satellite constellation and to provide launch-related and operations support services. We do not have an alternative source in the event that Alcatel is unable or unwilling to fulfill the contract.
Wireless devices may pose health and safety risks and, as a result, we may be subject to new regulations, demand for our services may decrease and we could face liability based on alleged health risks.
There has been adverse publicity concerning alleged health risks associated with radio frequency transmissions from portable hand-held telephones that have transmitting antennae. Lawsuits have been filed against participants in the wireless industry alleging various adverse health consequences, including cancer, as a result of wireless phone usage. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a lower federal courts decision remanding for trial in state courts several cases alleging such injuries. Our subsidiary, Globalstar USA, LLC, was a defendant in a similar case in a Georgia state court. Vodafone Americas, Inc. conducted our defense pursuant to a prior indemnification obligation. In March 2005, the case was consolidated with four other cases in the United States District Court in Maryland. On January 30, 2006, because of the consolidation, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the Georgia state court case.
Although we do not believe that there is valid scientific evidence that use of our phones poses a health risk, courts or governmental agencies could find otherwise. Any such finding could reduce our revenues and profitability and expose us and other wireless providers to litigation, which, even if not successful, could be costly to defend.
If consumers health concerns over radio frequency emissions increase, they may be discouraged from using wireless handsets. Further, government authorities might increase regulation of wireless handsets as a result of these health concerns. The actual or perceived risk of radio frequency emissions could reduce our subscriber growth rate, reduce the number of our subscribers or impair our ability to obtain future financing.
Pursuing strategic transactions may cause us to incur additional risks.
We may pursue acquisitions, joint ventures or other strategic transactions on an opportunistic basis, although no such transactions that would be financially significant to us are probable at this time. We may face costs and risks arising from any such transactions, including integrating a new business into our business or managing a joint venture. These may include legal, organizational, financial and other costs and risks.
In addition, if we were to choose to engage in any major business combination or similar strategic transaction, we may require significant external financing in connection with the transaction. Depending on market conditions, investor perceptions of us and other factors, we may not be able to obtain capital on acceptable terms, in acceptable amounts or at appropriate times to implement any such transaction. Any such financing, if obtained, may further dilute our existing stockholders.
Our indebtedness could impair our ability to react to changes in our business and may limit our ability to use debt to fund future capital needs.
Our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition. If the $150.0 million in committed facilities under our credit agreement had been drawn fully at December 31, 2006, our indebtedness would have been $150.7 million. This would have resulted in annual interest expense of approximately $16.6 million, assuming an interest rate of 11.0%. Our indebtedness could:
· require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to principal payments on our debt in years when the debt matures, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate expenditures;
· result in an event of default if we fail to comply with the restrictive covenants contained in our credit agreement, which event of default could result in all of our debt becoming immediately due and payable;
· increase our vulnerability to adverse general economic or industry conditions because our debt could mature at a time when those conditions make it difficult to refinance and our cash flow is insufficient to repay the debt in full, forcing us to sell assets at disadvantageous prices or to default on the debt, and because a decline in our profitability could cause us to be unable to comply with the forward fixed charge coverage ratio in our credit agreement and result in a default on, and acceleration of, our debt;
· limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, competition and/or changes in our business or our industry by limiting our ability to incur additional debt, to make acquisitions and divestitures or to engage in transactions that could be beneficial to us;
· restrict us from making strategic acquisitions, introducing new products or services or exploiting business opportunities; and
· place us at a competitive disadvantage relative to competitors that have less debt or greater financial resources.
Furthermore, if an event of default were to occur with respect to our credit agreement or other indebtedness, our creditors could accelerate the maturity of our indebtedness. Our indebtedness under our credit agreement is secured by a lien on substantially all of our assets and the assets of our domestic subsidiaries and the lenders could foreclose on these assets to repay the indebtedness.
Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance indebtedness obligations depends on our financial condition and operating performance, which are subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We may not be able to maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness. If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems and could be forced to sell assets, seek additional capital or seek to restructure or refinance our indebtedness. These alternative measures may not be successful or feasible. Our credit agreement restricts our ability to sell assets. Even if we could consummate those sales, the proceeds that we realize from them may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due.
We will be able to incur additional indebtedness or other obligations in the future, which would exacerbate the risks discussed above.
Our credit agreement permits us to incur, in addition to the $150.0 million of revolving credit and delayed draw term loans that the lenders have committed to advance under the credit agreement, other indebtedness under certain conditions, including up to $150.0 million of additional equally and ratably
secured, pari passu, term loans, up to $200.0 million of unsecured debt and up to $25.0 million of purchase money indebtedness or capitalized leases. We may incur this additional indebtedness only if no event of default under our credit agreement then exists, if we are in pro forma compliance with all of the financial covenants of our credit agreement, and if, after giving effect thereto, our consolidated total leverage ratio does not exceed 5.5 to 1.0. Our credit agreement also permits us to incur obligations that do not constitute indebtedness as defined in the credit agreement, including obligations to satellite vendors that are not evidenced by a note and not secured by assets other than those purchased with such obligations. To the extent additional debt or other obligations are added to our currently anticipated debt levels, the substantial indebtedness risks described above would increase.
We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under such indebtedness, which may not be successful.
Restrictive covenants in our credit agreement impose restrictions that may limit our operating and financial flexibility.
Our credit agreement contains a number of significant restrictions and covenants that limit our ability to:
· incur or guarantee additional indebtedness;
· pay dividends or make distributions to our stockholders;
· make investments, acquisitions or capital expenditures;
· repurchase or redeem capital stock or subordinated indebtedness;
· grant liens on our assets;
· incur restrictions on the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or to make other payments to us;
· enter into transactions with our affiliates;
· incur obligations to vendors of satellites;
· merge or consolidate with other entities or transfer all or substantially all of our assets; and
· transfer or sell assets.
Complying with these restrictive covenants, as well as those that may be contained in any agreements governing future indebtedness, may impair our ability to finance our operations or capital needs or to take advantage of other favorable business opportunities. Our ability to comply with these restrictive covenants will depend on our future performance, which may be affected by events beyond our control. If we violate any of these covenants and are unable to obtain waivers, we would be in default under the agreement and payment of the indebtedness could be accelerated. The acceleration of our indebtedness under one agreement may permit acceleration of indebtedness under other agreements that contain cross-default or cross-acceleration provisions. If our indebtedness is accelerated, we may not be able to repay our indebtedness or borrow sufficient funds to refinance it. Even if we are able to obtain new financing, it may not be on commercially reasonable terms or on terms that are acceptable to us. If our indebtedness is in default for any reason, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. In addition, complying with these covenants may also cause us to take actions that are not favorable to holders of the common stock and may make it more difficult for us to successfully execute our business plan and compete against companies who are not subject to such restrictions. Furthermore, our ability to draw on our credit facility is subject to conditions, including the absence of a material adverse change in our business or financial condition.
If we are unable to address successfully the material weakness in our internal controls, or our other control deficiencies, our ability to report our financial results on a timely and accurate basis and to comply with disclosure and other requirements may be adversely affected; public reporting obligations will put significant demands on our financial, operational and management resources.
We are not currently required to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and are therefore not required to make an assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting for that purpose. However, in connection with its audit of our 2006 consolidated financial statements, our independent registered public accounting firm, Crowe Chizek and Company LLP, identified a material weakness in our processes, procedures and controls related to the preparation, analysis and review of financial information. A material weakness is defined as a significant deficiency, or a combination of significant deficiencies, that results in more than a remote likelihood that a material misstatement of the annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected. Crowe Chizek identified a combination of issues that resulted in a material weakness, including the timeliness of identifying, researching and resolving accounting issues, the sharing of information and knowledge within and outside our accounting department, and the lack of specific metrics or processes to act as early warning indicators of potential impairments. Accordingly, our management concluded that this deficiency in internal control over financial reporting was a material weakness. Crowe Chizek recommended that we consider taking remedial actions, including hiring additional accounting resources and/or modifying existing job responsibilities in our corporate accounting department and simplifying and automating our reporting process.
To address this issue, we intend to hire additional high-level accounting personnel and institute additional procedures for inter-departmental communication and staff meetings. In connection with their audit of our 2006 financial statements, Crowe Chizek also advised our management and board of directors that it had identified a significant deficiency in our internal controls related to the revenue recognition process for annual service plans. A significant deficiency is defined as a control deficiency, or a combination of control deficiencies, that adversely affects a companys ability to initiate, authorize, record, process, or report external financial data reliably in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles such that there is more than a remote likelihood that a misstatement of the companys annual or interim financial statements that is more than inconsequential will not be prevented or detected. We intend to remediate this deficiency by adding more automated reporting capabilities in our billing software to reduce the use of manual processes.
We expect to incur additional costs associated with being a public company going forward. Although significant, we do not expect these additional costs to be material to our operations. We intend to pay for these additional costs from our working capital generated by our continuing operations.
We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of these and other processes, procedures and controls and will make any further changes management determines appropriate, including to effect compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 at or before December 31, 2007, the date by which we are required to comply with it.
Any material weakness or other deficiencies in our control systems may affect our ability to comply with SEC reporting requirements and NASDAQ Global Select Market listing standards or cause our financial statements to contain material misstatements, which could negatively affect the market price and trading liquidity of our common stock, cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, as well as subject us to civil or criminal investigations and penalties.
Our pre-emptive rights offering, which we intend to commence in the future, is not in strict compliance with the technical requirements of our prior certificate of incorporation.
Our certificate of incorporation as in effect when we entered into the irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement with Thermo Funding Company provided that stockholders who are accredited investors (as defined under the Securities Act) were entitled to pre-emptive rights with respect to the transaction with Thermo Funding Company. We intend to offer stockholders of the Company as of June 15, 2006 who are accredited investors the opportunity to participate in the transaction contemplated by the irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement with Thermo Funding Company on a pro rata basis on substantially the same terms as Thermo Funding Company. Some of our stockholders could allege that the offering does not comply fully with the terms of our prior certificate of incorporation. Although we believe any variance from the requirements of our former certificate of incorporation is immaterial and that we had valid reasons for delaying the pre-emptive rights offering until after our initial public offering, a court may not agree with our position if these stockholders allege that we have violated their pre-emptive rights. In that case, we can not predict the type of remedy the court could award such stockholders.
The pre-emptive rights offering, which we are required to make to our existing stockholders, will be done on a registered basis, and may negatively affect the trading price of our stock.
The pre-emptive rights offering will be made pursuant to a registration statement filed with, and potentially reviewed by, the Securities and Exchange Commission. After giving effect to waivers that we have already received, up to 785,328 shares of our common stock may be purchased if the pre-emptive rights offering is fully subscribed. Such shares may be purchased at approximately $16.17 per share, regardless of the trading price of our common stock. Although any shares purchased or subscribed for in the pre-emptive rights offering will be subject to a lock-up until May 2007, the nature of the pre-emptive rights offering may negatively affect the trading price of our common stock. Additionally, because existing stockholders who commit to participate in the pre-emptive rights offering have the right to purchase their committed shares at any time during the term of the irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement, any future purchases at $16.17 may also affect the trading price of our common stock at the time of purchase.
Our principal headquarters are located in Milpitas, California, where we currently lease 42,000 square feet of office space. We own or lease the facilities described in the following table:
Our owned properties in Clifton, Texas and Wasilla, Alaska are encumbered by liens in favor of the lenders under our credit agreement. See Managements Discussion and AnalysisContractual Obligations and Commitments.
From time to time, we are involved in various litigation matters involving ordinary and routine claims incidental to our business. Management currently believes that the outcome of these proceedings, either individually or in the aggregate, will not have a material adverse effect on the Companys business, results of operations or financial condition. We are involved in certain litigation matters as discussed below.
On May 26, 2005, Loral, filed a motion for an order in its Delaware bankruptcy case under Rule 2004 seeking to compel us and certain affiliates and individuals to produce documents and appear for oral examination. The matter involved our management of Government Services, L.L.C. (GSLLC), in which Loral holds a 25 percent minority interest, and alleged breach of fiduciary duty by the directors of GSLLC. On October 17, 2006, we and Loral agreed to settle this litigation. We agreed to pay $0.5 million in cash to Loral to settle the litigation and to acquire from Loral its 25% interest in Globalstars 75% owned subsidiary, GSLLC. The Delaware court approved the settlement on November 22, 2006, and payment was made on December 4, 2006. We now own 100% of GSLLC.
On January 13, 2006, Elsacom N.V. (Elsacom), an independent gateway operator whose territories include portions of Central and Eastern Europe and North Africa, served us with a notice of arbitration pursuant to a dispute resolution provision in its Satellite Services Agreement. The dispute stems from our decision in the fall of 2005 to realign coverage of the two gateways serving Western and Central Europe. On December 8, 2006, we and Elsacom agreed to settle this arbitration. We agreed to provide Elsacom
service provider credits worth $760,000 on current receivables and future sales and each party undertook certain other non-financial obligations.
On February 9, 13 and 21, 2007, three plaintiffs (Ladmen Partners, Israel Bollag and Margueritte Sherrard, respectively) filed purported class action lawsuits in the Southern District of New York against us, our chief executive officer and our chief financial officer. The actions allege that our registration statement related to our initial public offering in November 2006 contained material misstatements and omissions. The actions cited a drop in the trading price of our common stock that followed our filing, on February 5, 2007, of a current report of Form 8-K relating in part to changes in the condition of our satellite constellation. The actions seek recovery on behalf of a class of purchasers of our common stock who purchased shares in the initial public offering or traceable to that offering from November 2, 2006 through February 6, 2007. We intend to defend the matters vigorously.
Prior to our registration under the Securities Act of 1934, as permitted by Delaware law, we obtained written consents from the holders of a majority of our outstanding Common Stock on two occasions during the fourth quarter of 2006. At the time of each consent, there were 10,479,249 shares of Common Stock outstanding, consisting of 3,243,631 shares of Series A Common Stock, 692,400 shares of Series B Common Stock and 6,543,218 shares of Series C Common Stock. As to the first matter below, approval required the affirmative vote of a majority of the total outstanding shares, voting as a single class. The third required approval by holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of Series C Common Stock, voting separately as a class, and by holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of Series A and Series B Common Stock, voting together as a single class. Share numbers provided in this item are not adjusted for a 6-for-1 stock split in the form of a stock dividend that occurred on October 25, 2006.
On October 11, 2006, stockholders holding approximately 64% of the shares of Common Stock then outstanding approved an amendment to our Certificate of Incorporation to change the lock-up expiration date (the date upon which shares became transferable without approval of the Board of Directors) from October 13, 2006 to December 31, 2006.
On October 13, 2006, stockholders holding approximately 50.2% of the shares of Series A and Series B Common Stock and 100% of the Series C Common Stock then outstanding approved our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation and Amended and Restated Bylaws.
Our Common Stock has been quoted on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol GSAT since November 2, 2006. Prior to that time, there was no public market for our stock. The following table sets forth the closing high and low prices of our common stock as reported by the NASDAQ Global Market for the period indicated:
As of March 26, 2007, there were 292 holders of record of our Common Stock. We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our Common Stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings and do not expect to pay any dividends in the foreseeable future.
Use of Proceeds
On November 7, 2006, we completed the initial public offering of our Common Stock pursuant to a registration statement on Form S-1 (File No. 333-135809) declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 1, 2006. The managing underwriters for the offering were Wachovia Securities and JP Morgan. Pursuant to the registration statement, we sold 7,500,000 shares of Common Stock at $17.00 per share for an aggregate offering of $127.5 million. After deducting underwriting discounts and commissions of approximately $8.9 million and other estimated offering costs of approximately $1.9 million, our net proceeds from the initial public offering were approximately $116.6 million. As of December 31, 2006, we have used $33.3 million to repay our revolving credit facility, which may be redrawn subsequently, and to make initial payments on our second-generation satellite contract and have distributed $685,848 to Thermo as required by our former operating agreement and permitted by our credit agreement. Of the remaining proceeds, $52.6 million has been placed in an escrow account to secure our payment obligations related to the contract with Alcatel for the construction of our second-generation constellation and $30.2 million has been invested in highly liquid short-term investments in accordance with our investment policy.
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities
Effective January 1, 2006, we purchased the stock of three companies (GA Companies) which owned and operated a satellite communications business in Central America. These companies also owned five acres of real property in Nicaragua not used directly in the telecommunications business. At the time of closing, the selling stockholders received 15,331 membership units, which subsequently were converted into 91,986 shares of our Common Stock, as described below. The issuance of this Common Stock was exempt from registration under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act as a transaction not involving a public offering. The owners of the GA Companies who received our stock represented that they were sophisticated individuals, were acquiring the stock for investment and not for resale, had received adequate information concerning us and were able to bear the risk of investing in our stock. All such individuals reside outside the United States.
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, we were obligated either to redeem the original stock issued to the selling stockholders in January 2006 for $5.2 million in cash or to pay the selling stockholders, in cash or in stock, the difference between $5.2 million and the market value of that stock multiplied by the 5-day average closing price of the Common Stock for the period ending November 22, 2006. In accordance with the supplemental agreement dated December 21, 2006 with certain selling stockholders, we elected to
make payment in Common Stock and issued approximately 260,000 shares of additional common stock to certain selling stockholders. Under this supplemental agreement this stock was valued at approximately $3.7 million. However, it was not registered and therefore was not marketable. Accordingly, this supplemental agreement also provided that, in order to compensate the selling stockholders for the inability to sell these shares, every month we will pay interest on $3.7 million at the monthly New York prime rate until these shares become marketable, but not later than December 31, 2007.
We have the right to register, before December 22, 2007, the 260,000 shares of stock delivered in December 2006. If we do so and we have met in full our obligation to pay interest on $3.7 million, the interest obligation ceases as of the date this registration becomes effective. We also have the right to register additional shares of sufficient value on the effective date of the registration and to pay the interest obligation in Common Stock. In addition, if the per share market value of our common stock on December 22, 2007 multiplied by 260,000 is less than $3.7 million minus the sum of interest payments made on the $3.7 million on or before December 28, 2007, we will be required to pay the shortfall to these selling stockholders. However, if we shall have also registered sufficient additional Common Stock to pay the interest obligation and distributed it to the selling stockholders, they are obligated to accept the tender, return to us the interest previously paid in cash, and deem to be satisfied all our obligations under the acquisition agreement and the supplemental agreement.
During December 2006, we reached a settlement with the remaining selling stockholder and issued 15,109 shares of Common Stock to such stockholder. The 15,109 shares issued during December 2006 and the original 4,380 shares issued in January 2006 to this selling stockholder are not considered redeemable as of December 31, 2006.
On March 17, 2006, we were converted into a Delaware corporation named Globalstar, Inc. In connection with the conversion, all of our outstanding membership units were converted into shares of Common Stock. The issuance of this Common Stock was exempt from registration under Section 2(3) of the Securities Act because it did not involve any sale of securities or any investment decision. The conversion was approved by our board of managers (without a vote of our members) under authority granted to the board of managers in our operating agreement. The members had no right to approve, reject or opt out of the conversion, made no investment decision and provided no additional consideration with respect to the conversion. In October 2006, in anticipation of our initial public offering, our certificate of incorporation was amended to combine our three series of Common Stock into one class and our Board of Directors approved a six-for-one stock split.
On April 24, 2006, we entered into an irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement with Thermo Funding Company LLC, an affiliate of ours, pursuant to which the latter agreed to purchase up to 12,371,136 shares of Common Stock at a price of $16.17 per share. Thermo Funding Company had purchased 2,927,840 of such shares as of December 31, 2006 for an aggregate purchase price of $47.3 million. On February 5, 2007, Thermo Funding Company purchased an additional 1,500,000 shares of common stock for $24.3 million. The standby stock purchase agreement was required by the lender as a condition to entering into our credit agreement. The sale of these shares was exempt from registration under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act.
The following table presents our selected historical consolidated financial information and other data for the year ended December 31, 2002, for the period from January 1, 2003 through December 4, 2003, for the period from December 5, 2003 through December 31, 2003, for the years ended December 31, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and as of December 31, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The selected historical consolidated financial data of Old Globalstar (Predecessor) for the year ended December 31, 2002, for the period from January 1, 2003 through December 4, 2003 and as of December 31, 2002 has been derived from Old Globalstars consolidated financial statements, which are not included in this Form 10-K. Our selected historical consolidated financial data for the period December 5, 2003 through December 31, 2003 (Successor) and as of December 31, 2003 and 2004 has been derived from our audited consolidated balance sheets as of those dates, which are not included in this Report.
The columns in the following tables entitled Predecessor contain financial information with respect to the business and operations of Old Globalstar for periods prior to December 5, 2003, the date on which we obtained control of its assets.
You should read the selected historical consolidated financial data set forth below together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, all included in Items 7 and 8 of this Report. The selected historical consolidated financial data set forth below are not necessarily indicative of the results of future operations.
(1) Includes related party sales of $440 and $3,423 for the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, respectively.
(2) Includes costs of related party sales of $314 and $3,041 for the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, respectively.
(3) Includes related party amounts of $337 (January 1, 2003 - December 4, 2003), $131 (December 5, 2003 - December 31, 2003), $1,324 (year ended December 31, 2004), $176 (year ended December 31, 2005) and $0 (year ended December 31, 2006).
(4) Basic and diluted earnings (loss) per share have been calculated in accordance with SEC rules that require that the weighted average share calculation give retroactive effect to any changes in our capital structure. Therefore, weighted average shares for purposes of the basic and diluted earnings per share calculation has been adjusted to reflect the six-for-one stock split that occurred on October 25, 2006.
(5) Prior to January 1, 2006, we and Predecessor were treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes. A partnership passes through essentially all taxable income and losses to its partners or members and does not pay federal income taxes at the partnership level. Historical income tax expense consists mainly of foreign, state and local income taxes. On January 1, 2006, we elected to be taxed as a C corporation. For comparative purposes, we have included a pro forma provision for income taxes
assuming we (or Predecessor) had been taxed as a C corporation for the year ended December 31, 2005. See Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsCritical Accounting Policies and EstimatesIncome Taxes and Note 12 to our consolidated financial statements.
(6) Average monthly revenue per user measures service revenues per month divided by the average number of subscribers during that month. Average monthly revenue per user as so defined may not be similar to average monthly revenue per user as defined by other companies in our industry, is not a measurement under GAAP and should be considered in addition to, but not as a substitute for, the information contained in our statement of operations. We believe that average monthly revenue per user provides useful information concerning the appeal of our rate plans and service offerings and our performance in attracting and retaining high value customers.
(7) We define churn rate as the aggregate number of our retail subscribers (excluding Simplex customers and customers of the independent gateway operators) who cancel service during a month, divided by the average number of retail subscribers during the month. Others in our industry may calculate churn rate differently. Churn rate is not a measurement under GAAP and should be considered in addition to, but not as a substitute for, the information contained in our statement of operations. We believe that churn rate provides useful information concerning customer satisfaction with our services and products.
(8) EBITDA represents earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization. EBITDA does not represent and should not be considered as an alternative to GAAP measurements, such as net income, and our calculations thereof may not be comparable to similarly entitled measures reported by other companies.
We use EBITDA as the primary measurement of our operating performance because, by eliminating interest, taxes and the non-cash items of depreciation and amortization, we believe it best reflects changes across time in our performance, including the effects of pricing, cost control and other operational decisions. Our management uses EBITDA for planning purposes, including the preparation of our annual operating budget. We believe that EBITDA also is useful to investors because it is frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interested parties in their evaluation of companies in industries similar to ours. As indicated, EBITDA does not include interest expense on borrowed money or depreciation expense on our capital assets or the payment of taxes, which are necessary elements of our operations. Because EBITDA does not account for these expenses, its utility as a measure of our operating performance has material limitations. Because of these limitations, management does not view EBITDA in isolation and also uses other measures, such as net income, revenues and operating profit, to measure operating performance.
The following is a reconciliation of EBITDA to net income (loss):
(a) Includes Interest expense (income) and interest rate derivative loss
(b) See Note 5 above.
The following table provides supplemental information as to unusual and other items that are reflected in EBITDA:
(a) Represents a write-off for failed satellites.
(b) Represents a write-off in settlement of an overdue gateway receivable from an independent gateway operator and for a settlement over territorial coverage.
(c) Represents the benefit of pension and benefit adjustments.
(d) Represents the recovery of overdue accounts receivable previously written off.
(e) Represents an impairment charge related to allocation of the price we paid in the Reorganization for the assets and business of Old Globalstar.
(f) Represents costs relating to the restructuring of Old Globalstar that we assumed in the Reorganization.
(g) Represents a write-down of certain first generation product inventory for excess inventory.
(9) Restricted cash is comprised of funds held in escrow by a financial institution to secure our payment obligations related to our contract for the construction of the second-generation satellite constellation.
(10) Includes liabilities subject to compromise as of December 31, 2003 in the amount of $3,421,967.
This Management Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto in Item 8 of this Report.
We are a leading provider of mobile voice and data communication services via satellite. Our communications platform extends telecommunications beyond the boundaries of terrestrial wireline and wireless telecommunications networks to serve our customers desire for connectivity and reliable service at all times and locations. Using in-orbit satellites and ground stations, which we call gateways, we offer voice and data communications services to government agencies, businesses and other customers in over 120 countries.
In early 2002, Old Globalstar and three of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. We were formed in Delaware in November 2003 for the purpose of acquiring substantially all the assets of Old Globalstar and its subsidiaries. With Bankruptcy Court approval, we acquired Old Globalstars assets and assumed certain of its liabilities in a two-step transaction, with the first step completed on December 5, 2003, and the second step on April 14, 2004 (the Reorganization). On January 1, 2006, we elected to be taxed as a C corporation, and on March 17, 2006, we converted from a Delaware limited liability company to a Delaware corporation.
Material Trends and Uncertainties. Our satellite communications business, by providing critical, reliable mobile communications to our subscribers, serves principally the following markets: government, public safety and disaster relief; recreation and personal; maritime and fishing; natural resources, mining and forestry; oil and gas; construction; utilities; and transportation. Both our industry and our own subscriber base have been growing rapidly as a result of:
· favorable market reaction to new pricing plans with lower service charges;
· awareness of the need for remote and reliable communication services;
· increased demand for reliable communication services by disaster and relief agencies and emergency first responders;
· improved voice and data transmission quality; and
· a general reduction in prices of user equipment.
In addition, our industry as a whole has benefited from the improved financial condition of most industry participants following their financial reorganizations or conversions to private ownership.
Nonetheless, we face a number of challenges and uncertainties, including:
· Constellation life and health. Our current satellite constellation is aging. We plan to launch our eight spare satellites in 2007. Assuming these launches are successful and we are able to mitigate the S-band anomaly described below, we expect that our current satellite constellation will provide a commercially acceptable quality of service through 2009. A number of our satellites have experienced various anomalies over time, one of which is a degradation in the performance of the solid-state power amplifiers of the S-band communications antenna. The S-band antenna provides the downlink from the satellite to a subscribers phone or data terminal. Degraded performance of the S-band antenna reduces the quality of two-way voice and data communication between the affected satellites and the subscriber and may reduce the duration of a call. If the S-band antenna on a satellite ceases to be commercially functional, two-way communication is impossible over that satellite, but not necessarily over the constellation as a whole. The root cause of the degradation in
performance of the amplifiers is unknown, although we believe it may result from irradiation of the satellites in orbit.
The S-band antenna amplifier degradation does not affect adversely our one-way Simplex data transmission services, which utilize only the L-band uplink from a subscribers Simplex terminal to the satellites.
To date, we have managed the degradation of the S-band antenna amplifiers in various technical ways, as well as by placing into service spare satellites already in orbit and moving unimpaired satellites to key orbital positions.
Based on our most recent analysis, we now believe that, if the degradation of the S-band antenna amplifiers continues at the current rate or further accelerates, and if we are unsuccessful in developing additional technical solutions, the quality of two-way communications services will decline, and by some time in 2008 substantially all of our satellites launched between 1998 and 2000 will cease to be able to support two-way communications services.
We are working on plans, including new products and services and pricing programs, and exploring the feasibility of accelerating procurement and launch of our second-generation satellite constellation, to attempt to reduce the effects of this problem upon our customers and operations. See Item 1. Business Satellite Constellation Operations and Item 1A. Risk FactorsOur satellites have a limited life and may fail prematurely, which would cause our network to be compromised and materially and adversely affect our business, prospects and profitability.
· Competition and pricing pressures. We face increased competition from both the expansion of terrestrial-based cellular phone systems and from other mobile satellite service providers. For example, Inmarsat plans to commence offering satellite services to handheld devices in the United States around 2008, and several competitors, such as ICO Global Communications Company, are constructing geostationary satellites that will provide mobile satellite service. Increased numbers of competitors, and the introduction of new services and products by competitors, increases competition for subscribers and pressures all providers, including us, to reduce prices. Increased competition may result in loss of subscribers, decreased revenue, decreased gross margins, increased cost per gross addition, higher churn rates, and, ultimately, decreased profitability and cash.
· Technological changes. It is difficult for us promptly to match major technological innovations by our competitors because substantially modifying or replacing our basic technology, satellites or gateways is time-consuming and very expensive. Approximately 41% of our total assets at December 31, 2006 represented fixed assets. Although we believe our current technology and fixed assets are competitive with those of our competitors, and we plan to procure and deploy our second-generation satellite constellation and upgrade our gateways and other ground facilities, we are vulnerable to the successful introduction of superior technology by our competitors.
· Capital expenditures. Launching our eight spare satellites to augment our current constellation will cost approximately $120.0 million, of which $87.8 million (inclusive of $0.8 million of capitalized interest) had been paid or accrued by December 31, 2006. We plan to fund the balance of this cost from the sale of our common stock to Thermo Funding Company pursuant to its irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement described under Liquidity and Capital ResourcesIrrevocable Standby Stock Purchase Agreement. Procuring and deploying our second-generation satellite constellation and upgrading our gateways and other ground facilities will cost $1.0 to $1.2 billion, which we expect will be reflected in capital expenditures through 2014. On November 30, 2006, we entered into a 661.0 million (approximately $871.0 million at a conversion value of 1.00 = $1.3177) contract with Alcatel Alenia Space France (Alcatel) for the construction of our
second-generation constellation. See Liquidity and Capital ResourcesContractual Obligations and Commitments. We plan to fund approximately $400.0 million of the total $1.0 to $1.2 billion from the $116.6 million net proceeds of our initial public offering, the $150.0 million available through our credit agreement and the remaining proceeds from sales of our common stock under the irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement. We plan to fund the remaining cost of approximately $600.0 million to $800.0 million from cash generated by our business. If our future revenues or profitability are substantially below our expectations whether as a result of the degradation of our constellation or for any other reason, or the conditions requiring Thermo Funding Company to purchase the stock do not occur, and Thermo Funding Company does not elect to purchase the stock during the term of the irrevocable standby stock purchase agreement, we will require additional financing, which may be difficult or expensive to obtain, or we will have to modify our plans. Additionally, because substantially all of these costs will be capitalized, the resulting increase in our non-cash depreciation expense could have a material adverse effect on our future results of operations.
· Introduction of new products. We work continuously with the manufacturers of the products we sell to offer our customers innovative and improved products. Virtually all engineering, research and development costs of these new products are paid by the manufacturers. However, to the extent the costs are reflected in increased inventory costs to us, and we are unable to raise our prices to our subscribers correspondingly, our margins and profitability would be reduced.
· Fluctuations in interest and currency rates. Debt under our credit agreement bears interest at a floating rate. Therefore, increases in interest rates will increase our interest costs. A substantial portion of our revenue (33% for the year ended December 31, 2006) is denominated in foreign currencies. In addition, the contract for the launch of our spare satellites and a substantial majority of our obligations under the contract for our second-generation constellation are denominated in Euros. Any decline in the relative value of the U.S. dollar may adversely affect our revenues and increase our capital expenditures.
Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC). ATC is the integration of a satellite-based service with a terrestrial wireless service resulting in a hybrid mobile satellite services. The ATC network would extend our services to urban areas and inside buildings where satellite services currently are impractical. We believe we are at the forefront of ATC development and are actively working to be among the first market entrants. To that end we are considering a range of options for rollout of our ATC services. We are exploring selective opportunities with a variety of media and communication companies to capture the full potential of our spectrum and ATC license
Service Revenues. We earn revenues primarily from the sale of satellite communications services to direct customers, resellers and independent gateway operators. These services include mobile and fixed voice and data services and asset tracking and monitoring services. We generated approximately 69%, 64% and 67% of our consolidated revenues from the sale of our satellite communication services in 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively. The increase in service revenue as a percentage of total revenue in the year ended December 31, 2006 compared to 2005, has resulted primarily from a continued growth in our core markets in North America and rapidly growing subscriber base, which grew 34%, from approximately 196,000 at December 31, 2005 to approximately 263,000 at December 31, 2006. The decrease in service revenue as a percentage of total revenue in the year ended December 31, 2005 compared to 2004, resulted primarily from a substantial increase in product sales. Additionally, beginning in 2005 we significantly increased sales of our annual plans for which payment is received in advance but revenue is recognized based on usage, thereby increasing our deferred revenue due to the prepaid nature of the plans while decreasing our recognized revenue in the year ended December 31, 2005. We expect these sales to result in higher service revenues to be recognized within the subsequent twelve months. In 2005, we also experienced increasing demand for our services driven by increased awareness of the need for reliable communication services in
the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami. Although the majority of our subscribers utilize our network principally for voice communication services, an increasing portion of our revenue is derived from the sale of high and low speed data services, including our Simplex one-way data transmission service. Simplex is especially useful for remotely tracking the location of a subscribers remote assets, such as shipping containers. As a result of the above-mentioned factors and our marketing efforts, our subscriber base has continued to grow. Accordingly, our service revenue during the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006 increased by 41% and 13% over the years ended December 31, 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Subscriber Equipment Sales Revenue. We also sell related voice and data equipment to our customers. We generated approximately 31%, 36% and 33% of our consolidated revenues from subscriber equipment sales in 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively. As a percentage of our revenue, equipment sales decreased in 2006 compared to 2005 primarily as a result of robust equipment sales in 2005 related to that years active hurricane season. As a percentage of revenue, equipment sales increased faster than our service revenues in 2005, primarily as a result of significant customer growth in our major markets and the annual plan effect described above. Our subscriber equipment sales revenue decreased by 2% for the year ended December 31, 2006 compared to 2005. This was primarily due to robust equipment sales in 2005 and lower equipment sales in the fourth quarter of 2006 in anticipation of the new products which we planned to release in 2007. Our subscriber equipment sales revenue increased by 73% for the year ended December 31, 2005 compared to 2004. We believe that these increases in equipment sales revenue were the result of better marketing efforts, heightened awareness of emergency preparedness and increased knowledge by our customers of the competitive pricing of our product offerings. We price our subscriber equipment sales to maintain an overall positive margin on these sales rather than using the sales as loss leaders to promote the sale of our services.
The table below sets forth amounts and percentages of our revenue by type of service and equipment sales for the years ended December 31, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
(1) Includes activation fees and engineering service revenue.
Operating Expenses. Our operating expenses are comprised principally of:
· Cost of services, which are costs directly related to the operation and maintenance of our network, such as satellite tracking and monitoring, gateway monitoring, trouble shooting and sub-system maintenance, and the ordering, billing and provisioning of our services, including customer care and phone activations;
· Cost of subscriber equipment sales, which is the recognition of inventory carrying cost into expense when equipment is sold;
· Marketing, general and administrative expenses, which are the salaries and related costs, including expenses related to our 2006 Equity Incentive Plan and other employee benefits, for employees other than those involved in operations and engineering, and the marketing and administrative costs of operating our business;
· Depreciation and amortization, which represent the depreciation and amortization of our space and ground facilities, property and equipment, as well as amortization of certain intangible assets.
Our increased sales and number of subscribers have caused increases both in our cost of subscriber equipment and in our marketing, general and administrative expenses during the year ended December 31, 2006. We expect to experience growth in general and administrative costs associated with increased revenue, such as bad debt allowance, human resources and collections, as well as costs associated with being a public company including compliance costs related to the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We anticipate these compliance costs will be approximately $1.0 million in 2007. We expect the rate of growth of these costs to be substantially lower than the growth rate of our revenue. Acquisition of new fixed assets, especially gateways acquired from independent gateway operators and new gateways built by us, has increased our depreciation and amortization expense.
Compensation Expense. On November 10, 2006, the compensation committee of our board of directors authorized restricted stock and restricted stock unit awards for an aggregate of approximately 295,000 shares of Common Stock to substantially all our employees (see Note 17 of our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this Report). As a result of these awards, we incurred a pre-tax non-cash charge of approximately $1.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2006 and approximately $3.2 million is expected to be amortized over the shares remaining three-year vesting period.
Operating Income (Loss). Our operating income decreased to $15.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 from $21.9 million for 2005. This is primarily due to costs of subscriber equipment sales increasing at a faster pace than equipment sales revenue due to pricing promotions, inventory write-downs on first-generation products, allowance for bad debt on certain customer receivables, non-cash stock compensation charge, and higher depreciation and amortization costs. Our operating income (loss) grew from an operating loss of $3.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2004, to operating income of $21.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. Our operating income grew between 2004 and 2005 due principally to increased revenue which resulted from growth in our number of subscribers from approximately 141,500 to 196,000. Our operating income margin, which is operating income or loss divided by total revenue, was 17.2% and 11.5% for the year ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, respectively. The decrease in the operating income margin is due to higher subscriber equipment and customer acquisition costs. Due to the fixed cost nature of our network, our operating income margin is particularly sensitive to increases in costs of subscriber equipment and customer acquisition costs.
Currently 16 of the gateways in our network are owned and operated by unaffiliated companies, which we call independent gateway operators, some of whom operate more than one gateway. Some of these independent gateway operators have been unable to grow their businesses adequately due in part to
limited resources. Old Globalstar initially developed the independent gateway strategy to establish operations in multiple territories with reduced demands on its capital. In addition, for political or other reasons, there are territories in which it is impractical for us to operate directly. We sell services to the independent gateway operators on a wholesale basis and they resell them to their customers on a retail basis.
We have acquired, and intend to continue to pursue the acquisition of, independent gateway operators when we believe we can do so on favorable terms. We believe that these acquisitions can enhance our results of operations in three respects. First, we believe that, with our greater financial and technical resources, we can grow our subscriber base and revenue faster than some of the independent gateway operators. Second, we realize greater margin on retail sales to individual subscribers than we do on wholesale sales to independent gateway operators. Third, we believe expanding the territory we serve directly will better position us to market our services directly to multinational customers who require a global communications provider. However, acquisitions of independent gateway operators do require us to commit capital for acquisition of their assets, as well as management resources and working capital to support the gateway operations, and therefore increase our risk in operating in these territories directly rather than through the independent gateway operators. In addition, operating the acquired gateways increases our marketing, general and administrative expenses. Our credit agreement limits to $25.0 million the aggregate amount we may invest in foreign acquisitions without the consent of our lenders.
In February 2005, we purchased the Venezuela gateway for $1.6 million in cash to be paid over four years. Effective January 1, 2006, we acquired the Central American gateway and other real property assets for $5.2 million, paid principally in shares of our common stock. Because independent gateway operations vary in size and value, we are unable to predict the timing or cost of further acquisitions.