Despite last month’s conclusion by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a joint panel of nine federal agencies, that LightSquared’s plan for a 4G broadband system could not coexist with GPS and should therefore be folded by March 2, the company appealed to the FCC for a 30-day extension to prove its concept is still valid. But almost before the FCC could respond, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja resigned from the company, as did technical vice president Martin Harriman.
Industry sources were not surprised by Ahuja’s departure, since he was seen as becoming publicly too aggressive by Washington standards. Earlier, he had accused NTIA engineers of “rigging” interference tests by using obsolete GPS receivers.
But in parting, Ahuja raised his sights. “Politicians,” he said, “rather than engineers and scientists, dictated the solution to the problem.” Yet Harriman’s departure was more telling to industry observers. “With him gone, it’s game over,” said one.
For LightSquared, however, problems still remain, with investors demanding a quick bankruptcy to conserve dwindling reserves against opposition from company owner Phil Falcone. Reportedly, Falcone believes that a government-sponsored swap for alternate frequencies is still possible, although time is running out.