LightSquared Strikes Back

 - June 28, 2011, 11:22 AM

Following extensive reports of GPS interference, LightSquared announced last week that it would vacate its L-Band frequency adjacent to GPS and move to one further away to greatly reduce, but not eliminate, interference with satnav signals. The transmitting power of its 4G nationwide stations would also be halved, though it would still be higher than that used in recent tests. Yet LightSquared clearly aims to return to the vacated frequency, stating, “By proposing to operate only in spectrum that is farther from the GPS spectrum, and at a lower signal strength, LightSquared is creating time for GPS receivers to be upgraded so that the American people can benefit from both GPS and an innovative new wireless broadband network.” Upgrading GPS receivers with filters is LightSquared’s interference solution, but one felt unacceptable by GPS manufacturers. Aggravating the dispute are LightSquared’s assertions that upgrades simply require a 30-cent device–a claim that a GPS industry specialist told AIN was “totally misleading, especially for aircraft equipment”–and that GPS users are taxpayer subsidized for services properly valued at $18 billion, the approximate cost of an equivalent U.S.-only commercial satnav system. The Coalition to Save Our GPS said LightSquared’s “hastily arrived at Hail Mary ‘solution’…is not a solution in any shape, form or fashion,” adding that GPS interference will still occur even if it just uses the lower L-band frequencies.