LightSquared’s planned nationwide 4G broadband network got yet another reprieve from Sprint today. Last year, Sprint agreed to provide $15 billion to LightSquared for infrastructure needs, with one condition: LightSquared must obtain FCC approval by Dec. 31, 2011. The FCC didn’t come through–saying LightSquared has yet to prove its transmissions will not interfere with GPS signals–but last month Sprint extended its offer until the end of this month. And with barely 12 hours to spare, Sprint again extended this until mid-March.
“It is the unanimous conclusion of the test findings by the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee (ExCom) agencies that both LightSquared’s original and modified plans for its proposed mobile network would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers,” the committee wrote in a letter sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on Friday. The PNT ExCom–composed of nine U.S.
On Tuesday, the FCC approved LightSquared’s fallback plan to move from a frequency close to that of GPS in the upper L-band–where tests had shown severe interference–to a lower 10-MHz portion of the same spectrum where reduced interference was expected.
LightSquared is running an advertising campaign in Washington, D.C., that includes prominent multiple advertisements along the platforms of downtown stations of the city’s Metro system serving Capitol Hill, FAA headquarters and other key government offices. Photo at left was taken this morning by an AIN staffer at L'Enfant Plaza Metro station.
Possibly recognizing that the July 1 final report on GPS testing showed that interference was worse than predicted, LightSquared lawyers are now bypassing the FCC and submitting technical papers directly to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva, according to published reports.
Since early reports indicate that LightSquared’s transmitters do, in fact, interfere with GPS signals, LightSquared yesterday announced that it would vacate the frequency that caused major GPS interference and move to one farther away, where tests had shown minimum interference. However, some GPS receivers would still be affected by the company’s 4G signals even in this frequency band.
LightSquared documents submitted to the FCC last week reveal that its transmitters were transmitting at only half power during the tests recently conducted in the Las Vegas area to check for interference with GPS receivers. This means that any interference detected by the GPS units could be as much as half that expected when the LightSquared transmitters operate at their eventual planned power levels.
The U.S. Departments of Defense, Transportation, Commerce and Homeland Security, as well as the civil GPS Industry Council–of which NBAA is a member–have filed objections with the FCC over a new satellite-enabled cellular broadband service from LightSquared.
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