Public Sucked Into LightSquared Squabble

LightSquared got some breathing space Friday as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a public comment period on the carrier's petition about its rights to use the spectrum licensed to it.

On Dec. 20, LightSquared petitioned the agency about the waiver it issued on Jan. 23 2011 to allow the operator to build an LTE network in L-Band spectrum. The L-Band spectrum is right next to bandwidth used by GPS receivers and some of them would "see" transmissions from the planned network, causing interference.

LightSquared said that the GPS industry had known for eight years that a terrestrial network in the L-Band spectrum was coming from LightSquared or its predecessors. Yet the industry didn't change the design of their receivers. "Commercial GPS receivers are not licensed, do not operate under any service rules, and thus are not entitled to any interference protection whatsoever," LightSquared claimed in its December petition.

The FCC has now opened up a public comment period on this. It will run until Feb. 27 with follow-ups due by March 13.

Why this matters
The FCC move appears to give LightSquared a bit more time for testing before the vultures start to circle. The company is arguing against previous government tests that say the planned network does cause interference with GPS. LightSquared claims collusion with the GPS industry "rigged" the results and says that only the FCC can decide what happens with the spectrum.

LightSquared's network partner, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), has put its deal with the operator on hold until the interference issue is resolved. Harbinger Capital Partners LP -backed LightSquared, meanwhile, has said that it has enough money to continue operations for the next several quarters.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:44:04 PM
re: Public Sucked Into LightSquared Squabble

I'd like to know if the tests that LightSquared has been so critical of were conducted with or without the filter LightSquared has been touting and if indeed GPS vendors have manufactured products that don't conform to regulations as LightSquared claims.

If the GPS products don't conform to regulations and could pass tests with filters that would enable them to conform to regulations, I think it will be difficult to show that the FCC did anything wrong in allowing LightSquared to go as far as it did--whether or not LightSquared ever gets the go-ahead.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:44:03 PM
re: Public Sucked Into LightSquared Squabble

It really doesn't matter.  The root of the problem, if the spectrum was used as it was originally sold for, there wouldn't be an issue.  If you go and buy a Smart Car (which seats two people) and then three months later, your wife is pregnant.  You also decide that you would like to get a 40-foot boat.  You then determine that the car the salesman sold you is no longer adequate.  You go and demand that the dealership needs to bend over backwards for you because what they sold you is not what you currently need.  This is no different than what LightSquared is doing.  They bought spectrum that was for satellite to ground communication.  Now they want to use the spectrum for terrestrial communication and given the much higher output that is near the GPS receivers, it is going to cause issues.  That interference is expected, it has been known about many decades.  Case in point, the FCC won’t let two radio stations uses adjoining bands in the same city.  If you had radio station A in the north part of the town, station B in the south part and .20 MHz between them.  If you were in the north part of town and listening to the station in the south part, you would get bleed over from the northern station.  This is why the FCC won’t let two stations being in nearby bands.  The same is true in television.  The same is true in every band.


The fact is, what LightSquared bought won’t do what they want, they bought the wrong spectrum.  The FCC just needs to pull the plug on them and let LightSquared work it out.  They bought spectrum no one else wanted for cheap and now want to use it as high dollar spectrum.  If the FCC allows this, expect others to pull the same stunt.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:43:53 PM
re: Public Sucked Into LightSquared Squabble

 "If the FCC allows this, expect others to pull the same stunt."



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