LightSquared Offers GPS Olive Branch

LightSquared is proposing to use a lower part of the L-Band and keep a lid on the broadcast power of its base stations in order to mitigate fears about its proposed 4G deployment in the U.S. interfering with GPS services. (See LightSquared Gets a GPS Extension.)

The company, which wants to deploy a first-of-its-kind satellite and Long Term Evolution (LTE) network across the U.S., offered up an olive branch to the GPS industry and other concerned parties Wednesday. The Harbinger Capital Partners LP -backed venture offered a two-pronged approach to combating potential interference in the 1.5GHz to 1.6GHz L-Band, saying that it will:

  • Launch in a 10MHz block of spectrum lower in the band than it had initially intended that "is largely free of interference issues."

  • Commit to using only 50 percent of maximum possible transmit power available in its L-Band base stations, keeping it to the original 35 dBW power requirements laid down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2005.

LightSquared Executive Vice President Martin Harriman tells LR Mobile that the reduction in base station radio power won't mean that LightSquared will need to deploy more infrastructure because "the network was planned around those requirements."

The issue was that the FCC had upped the maximum allowable transmit power for the base stations by a few decibels -- to 42 dBW -- and some in the GPS industry didn't believe that LightSquared wouldn't pump up the volume to the max.

"It was a trust issue," he says. "So we took it off the table."

Harriman says that despite the plan for a spectrum shift the company can still hit its target to cover 100 million people by the end of 2012 with a launch in the first quarter of the year.

"That remains the plan, and with these modifications we can achieve it," Harriman says.

The company appears to have addressed -- at least in part -- one of the main concerns of the GPS industry with its offer to move down the L-Band. The final report on interference is due at the FCC by July 1 and it will be down to the government agency to decide what happens next.

Separately, Harriman wouldn't comment on the possibility of a network sharing deal between LightSquared and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) (See LightSquared Reportedly Seals Sprint Deal .)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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