FCC Bars LightSquared Broadband Network Plan

By Paul Riegler on 14 February 2012
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The Federal Communications Commission announced it had revoked its conditional approval for the controversial LightSquared national broadband network.

The proposed network was to use airwaves once reserved for satellite-telephone transmissions and had been given a conditional approval by the FCC last year.

The FCC’s move follows a statement by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration,  which held that “there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference [with GPS] at this time.”

LightSquared’s plans have been strongly opposed by users of GPS systems, which include the military and the aviation industry.  The NTIA tests demonstrated that the company’s network, even in a scaled-back version, would interfere with GPS signals and systems.

LightSquared, a Virginia-based company that is controlled by Philip Falcone, a hedge fund manager, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the testing of the network was “severely flawed” and that it “remains committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry.”

LightSquared blames the GPS industry for making devices that stray into adjacent airwaves, namely the spectrum that LightSquared was planning to use.

The company has been very vocal about the problems it perceives exist with GPS technology.  In the company’s blog, Jeff Carlisle, executive vice president for regulatory affairs, stated that it appeared that the GPS industry had become “too big to fail,” noting that “GPS manufacturers have been selling devices that listen into frequencies outside of their assigned spectrum band – namely LightSquared’s licensed band.”  He continued on to say that “The GPS industry has leveraged years of insider relationships and massive lobbying dollars to make sure that they don’t have to fix the problem they created.”

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