LightSquared: GPS Community Has No Legal Gripe

AINalerts » December 22, 2011
December 22, 2011, 5:00 PM

In a formal submission to the FCC on Wednesday, LightSquared asserted that the GPS community has no legal standing to complain about interference. “The commercial GPS industry has manufactured, and sold to unsuspecting consumers, unlicensed and poorly designed GPS receivers that illegally ‘listen’ on LightSquared’s owned and licensed frequencies,” the company said in the document. LightSquared claimed that GPS manufacturers also knew adjacent frequency interference was possible but made no attempt to prevent it.

The would-be broadband provider had made these points earlier in correspondence, and GPS manufacturers had refuted them. 

Industry observers now suggest LightSquared’s formal request for a fast FCC decision in its favor reflects the extreme pressures under which it now finds itself. By year-end it could sign a $9 billion contract with Sprint, provided the FCC agrees that GPS interference has been solved. To meet Sprint’s condition, LightSquared proposed to the FCC that it would vacate its interference-producing frequency close to that of GPS, in exchange for the FCC’s fast-tracking LightSquared’s Internet broadcasting startup over its alternate, supposedly interference-free, frequency. 

Finally, company cash is dwindling, an obstacle probably complicated by advice from federal regulators that LightSquared’s parent, Harbinger Holdings, will be investigated for possible fraud.

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charlie
on December 24, 2011 - 11:21am

“The commercial GPS industry has manufactured, and sold to unsuspecting consumers, unlicensed and poorly designed GPS receivers that illegally ‘listen’ on LightSquared’s owned and licensed frequencies,”

What about the non-commercial GPS industry?

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Dan
on December 27, 2011 - 11:33am

The license restrictions that Lightsquared seeks to have 'waived' by the FCC were put into place many years ago to protect neighboring frequencies from interference. Placing a signal that is one trillion (not an exageration) times stronger than GPS signals will overwhelm any reasonable GPS filter's ability to prevent interference. This is long established fact, and is the reason the rules preventing Lightsquared from proceding are in place.

Just because they have a license to operate a satellite-based network on the frequencies at issue does not convey to them a right to operate a terrestrial (cell tower) based network on those same frequencies. If it did, the issue would be moot as they would not need FCC permission. If you want to be angered by the prolific deception of this company and it's backer, Philip Falcone, just keep digging.

Just as any licensed transmitter cannot move or increase its power without FCC approval, so the same with Lightsquared. This latest maneuver is analogous to a low-power rural TV station licensed on a specific frequency, asserting its 'right' to that frequency by demanding it be allowed to move its tranmitting antenna to the middle of New York City and increase its tranmitting power to whatever it wanted. That is not how FCC licenses work. The license has restrictions, and Lightsquared is attempting to turn an investment in satellite licenses into a $10 billion windfall by using them terrestrially. There is a reason this was not done before. It is not compatible with other satellite services in this same band, including GPS. It is also high-jacking a public resource (bandwidth) for private profit, when other companies have paid dearly into the public treasury for this same type of high-value terrestrial spectrum.

It is time for the FCC to put a stop to this madness and decline Lightsquared's waiver request (or 'demand' as the above article indicates) and let the company go back to providing the satellite services it was originally licensed for on these frequencies.

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