LightSquared Nears the End of GPS Testing

It's up to the FCC what happens after June 15, but LightSquared expects a 2012 launch of services on its LTE network for wholesale customers

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

June 1, 2011

2 Min Read
LightSquared Nears the End of GPS Testing

LightSquared says that it will be done with GPS interference testing by June 15 and will then have to wait for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to decide its fate. The carrier still expects to launch in 2012 and cover 100 million people with service in the U.S. by the end of that year.

LightSquared's executive VP of regulatory affairs and public policy, Jeffrey Carlisle, held a teleconference Wednesday to update reporters on the GPS issue as the testing time draws to a close. "The FCC has only said that they will talk the report over with other government agencies ... and issue a letter," Carlisle says. (See LightSquared: Testing in 2011, Launch in 1H '12 and FAA Warns on LightSquared GPS Tests in Nevada.)

The Harbinger Capital Partners LP -backed venture doesn't expect a deadline change. Carlisle says LightSquared plans commercial tests late this year and a network ready for commercial service "early in 2012." It is mandated by the FCC to have 100 million people covered by the end of 2012. (See LightSquared Needs Sprint in its Race to 4G.)

"The FCC was pretty clear in the January order that they'll be holding us to those milestones," Carlisle says.

This means that any GPS interference issues will need to be sorted out quickly if LightSquared is to meet its targets. The operator has been checking out over 150 different GPS devices in its testing. The report will offer information and analysis on the devices, the frequencies used and the transmit power of the network equipment.

LightSquared has been using Nokia Networks 's equipment in its tests in the Vegas, transmitting at half the 1.6 killowatt power that it will eventually use. Carlisle says the firm will be able to simulate the effects of full-power transmissions in software for the report.

Carlisle says that LightSquared always knew that there would be some interference problems with GPS receivers in the adjacent band picking up transmissions from its L-Band network. "We understand that certain GPS receivers capture signal from our band," he says.

This means that LightSquared will work with the GPS industry to mitigate any interference that the final report indicates "to ensure that there continues to be a robust GPS system," Carlisle says.

Nonetheless, he insists that this wasn't a surprise for GPS services either. SkyTerra, the company which was bought out by Harbinger last year, got permission for its L-Band terrestrial network long before the FCC allowed ground-only devices to be used on the network in January 2011.

SkyTerra was the first mobile satellite communications services (MSS) provider to receive a license to operate an Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) network from the Federal Communications Commission. The network plan was first authorized in February 2003 and received a 5-0 vote in favor in the FCC's ATC reconsideration order of February 2005. (See Harbinger Hatches LTE Challenger in US.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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