LightSquared: Waiting on the GPS Word

While we await official word on the LightSquared GPS interference report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , a group of carriers and vendors is telling the government agency that the hybrid satellite and LTE network is crucial to the future of broadband in the U.S.

LightSquared has said it would send a report to the FCC on interference issues between its L-Band LTE network and terrestrial GPS receivers Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal quotes sources saying that the report, by LightSquared and a GPS industry group, will show that the LightSquared network can cause interference but will also show disagreements on how to fix the problem. (See LightSquared Nears the End of GPS Testing.)

The FCC hasn't released details of the report yet. LightSquared hasn't yet replied to our questions about the report.

A group of carriers and vendors in the U.S., however, says it's "imperative" that the FCC find a way to let the 4G network and GPS coexist if wireless broadband is to flourish further in the U.S.

Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG), XO Communications Inc. , Cellular South , SI Wireless, DragonWave Inc. (AIM/Toronto: DWI; Nasdaq: DRWI) and others have written to the FCC about the network. They argue in the letter that the network has to happen for better rural broadband coverage:

    Recognizing that demand for wireless broadband services and applications is dramatically increasing and that today’s wireless networks are unable to meet this projected demand, the FCC correctly supported the development of LightSquared’s new, nationwide 4G-LTE network complemented with satellite coverage as a way of significantly expanding broadband access across the country. From commercial launch, it will offer the entire nation coverage through its satellites, as well as extending ground based broadband service to over 92% of the population by 2015. The combination of satellite and ground based services provides the only feasible way to offer meaningful, ubiquitous nationwide wireless communications, including to un-served and underserved rural communities across America.

It should be noted that Cellular South and SI Wireless have already inked network deals with LightSquared. Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and CEO of LightSquared, is also pushing the "broadband for all" angle in the new official blog for the operator. (See LightSquared Roams with SI Wireless and LightSquared Bags Cellular South Deal.)

The GPS industry, meanwhile, has already made its position on LightSquared very clear. Some have recently been calling for the FCC to find other spectrum to deploy the LightSquared network on. (See LightSquared Opposition Wants Spectrum Shift.)

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski now flatly states that the commission will not let LightSquared begin commercial service without first resolving the GPS issue. He does say, however, in a letter responding to concerns from Sen. Charles Grassley about the timetable for LightSquared deployment, that its predecessors have had access to the L-Band satellite spectrum since 1995 and have been authorized to provide terrestrial service since 2004. So the network shouldn't be a surprise to the GPS industry:

"As early as July 2009, the U.S. GPS Industry Council raised concerns about potential emissions into the GPS band," the chairman writes. "One month later, however, the Council filed a joint letter with Skyterra agreeing that the GPS interference issues had been resolved."

This doesn't mean that the FCC doesn't take current concerns seriously, Genachowski stresses.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:01:45 PM
re: LightSquared: Waiting on the GPS Word

LightSquared was just granted an extension to July 1 to file the report.


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