FCC Revokes Approval Of LightSquared’s Network
February 15, 2012

FCC Revokes Approval Of LightSquared’s Network

LightSquared, a company vying to build a nationwide 4G-LTE wireless network, is on track to have its proposal shot down by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after testing showed the network would interfere with existing GPS devices.

The FCC on Tuesday revoked the conditional approval for the network given in January 2011. That revocation comes after an opinion by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which said that “there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time” with GPS devices.

“Furthermore, while GPS equipment manufacturers may be able to mitigate these issues via new technology in the future the time and money required for federal, commercial and private sector users to replace technology in the fiend and the marketplace, on aircraft and in integrated national security systems cannot support the scheduled deployment of terrestrial services proposed by LightSquared,” NTIA´s opinion letter stated.

The FCC will also issue a public notice on Wednesday seeking comment on the NTIA´s conclusions.

LightSquared proposed to build an open-access, wholesale wireless broadband network integrating satellite and terrestrial technology, but government testing showed it would disrupt 75 percent of GPS systems. Numerous groups objected LightSquared´s proposal, raising pressure on the FCC to block it. While LightSquared may fight on, the NTIA recommendation and subsequent FCC decision significantly reduces the chances of LightSquared gaining any future success.

LightSquared has long maintained that the problem lies with the GPS community, which should have to redesign its receivers. It has renewed its complaints that the GPS industry has become “too big to fail” and is being protected by the government even though its receivers often do not filter frequencies properly and listen on adjacent spectrum, including those now held by LightSquared.

“GPS manufacturers have been selling devices that listen into frequencies outside of their assigned spectrum band – namely into LightSquared´s licensed band,” Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared℠s executive vice president, wrote in a blog post (http://www.lightsquared.com/uncategorized/gps-too-big-to-fail/). “The GPS industry has leveraged years of insider relationships and massive lobbying dollars to make sure that they don´t have to fix the problem they created.”

“You can get a cell phone for free with a two-year contract that is more resilient to GPS interference than what´s being installed in today´s commercial airliners” LightSquared said.

LightSquared, a Virginia company majority-owned by New York hedge fund manager Philip Falcone, said today that the testing of the network was “severely flawed.” It said in a statement that it will remain “committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry to resolve all remaining concerns.”

After earlier negative test results, LightSquared had proposed a scaled back version of its plan, only using terrestrial transmitters and receivers to transmit broadband signals over a small slice of the satellite airwaves. But NTIA said tests showed that even that would interfere with GPS signals.

Opposition to LightSquared´s network has come from the Pentagon and other military industries, and also from industrial and commercial companies like John Deere, whose advanced farm equipment uses GPS systems.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last July issued a report saying it would take 10 years to redesign, develop, certify and install modified GPS equipment in the nation´s fleet of private jets.

In January, after initial results of the testing began to pour through to media, LightSquared conducted a conference call with reporters telling them that the testing requirements were aimed at producing failing results and that members of the advisory board overseeing the tests “have deep ties with the same GPS manufacturers who have sold poorly designed equipment to America´s farmers, public safety officials, military and government agencies.”


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