Multi-agency Committee Wants Plug Pulled on LightSquared

 - January 17, 2012, 3:40 PM

“It is the unanimous conclusion of the test findings by the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee (ExCom) agencies that both LightSquared’s original and modified plans for its proposed mobile network would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers,” the committee wrote in a letter sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on Friday. The PNT ExCom–composed of nine U.S. agencies and departments, including the Departments of Defense and Transportation–has “worked with LightSquared to evaluate its original deployment plan, and subsequent modifications, to address interference concerns” of the company’s planned 4G broadband network, which would operate in the mobile satellite spectrum (MSS) band adjacent to GPS. In addition to ExCom’s findings, an FAA analysis found that LightSquared’s proposals are “not compatible” with several GPS-dependent aircraft safety-of-flight systems. “Based upon this testing and analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit…LightSquared…to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time,” the committee said. If the NTIA follows the recommendation, LightSquared’s plans to use the MSS band would be crushed. In a rebuttal, LightSquared claims that it found “serious anomalies” in the PNT systems engineering forum’s test process and is asking the NTIA to proceed with Phase 2 testing.