Crunch Time for LightSquared Tomorrow? Not Really

 - June 14, 2011, 10:20 AM

In accordance with the Federal Communication Commission’s January ruling, LightSquared must, in its June 15 final report on GPS compatibility tests, show that “it is clear that potential GPS interference concerns have been resolved.” But hold that applause, GPS users. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has stated that first, the FCC must review the report and then have a “public comment cycle” to provide unspecified parties “further opportunities to present their views.” Following that, the FCC will “consider thoroughly all the viewpoints and technical evidence included in the final report and the comments filed in response.” On the face of it, the widespread opposition to LightSquared’s plan from members of Congress; federal departments such as Defense, Transportation and Commerce; alphabet groups such as NBAA, ATA and ALPA; and industry organizations and individual users should make the FCC’s conclusion a no-brainer. But that would be to ignore LightSquared’s announced multibillion-dollar bankroll, its reportedly powerful political connections and the voter appeal of nationwide wireless 4G broadband service. In response to an FAA request, the RTCA concluded, “From an aviation perspective, LightSquared upper-channel operation should not be allowed.”