Policy

Pizza Shop Owner Backs LightSquared Bid to Use Different Spectrum Slice

Police Chief, Minister Also Weigh in on Latest Variation on 4G Wireless Service Proposal 12/20/2012 8:52 AM Eastern
LightSquared appears to have been beating the bushes for backers of its latest FCC proposal, and while it wasn't Godfather's pizza that one business owner was touting, that latest offer was one he suggested the commission shouldn't refuse.

The chief of police of the Sugar Creek, Mo., police department, the owner of Guido's Pizza in Novi, Mich., and the minister of Church of Christ at Chances Crossroads are just some of the folks who have asked the FCC to accept LightSquared's new proposal to launch its 4G LTE network.

The FCC has been soliciting comment on LightSquared's proposal to vacate the 10 MHz of mobile satellite services (MSS) spectrum closest to the GPS band and delay use of the lower portion of that MSS band. It was out-of-band interference picked up by GPS receivers that caused the FCC to rescind its permission to LightSquared to use the entirety of its MSS allocation for terrestrial wireless.

Facing the loss of billions in investment, LightSquared offered the counter proposal of delaying occupation of that 10 MHz while using the remainder, then recently upped the ante by offering to relinquish the 10 MHz entirely as a guard band to allay GPS concerns, while delaying use of the lower portion and launching with 30 MHz in a separate band and sharing 5 MHz of that spectrum with the government.

It is that proposal that has been drawing comment at the FCC, including Chief Herbert Soule, who wrote in a Dec. 17 letter pointing out that LightSquared has satellite communications roots in the public safety community -- providing voice service to FBI and FEMA -- and saying that the new proposal is a "good deal for government."

Pizza parlor owner Daniel Lawless argued that the FCC should approve the LightSquared proposal because cell service means more jobs, though he did not try to draw a connection with those jobs and pizza. "LightSquared should be commended and given the green light for this well-thought-out plan," he said.

The Rev. Harold Tucker tells the FCC that approving the revamped plan will have "a profound impact on religious efforts to reach more and more people interested in learning about the Bible."

The GPS industry is not assuaged. In its filing on the new proposal, it argues that high-powered signals in any part of the band adjacent to GPS will cause interferences and calls "unexamined" the FCC's claim that high-powered terrestrial networks are the highest and best use of spectrum. The GPS commenters said they did not question the importance of making more spectrum available for wireless, but said it did not follow that "all underutilized spectrum, and mobile satellite services spectrum in particular, must be repurposed for mobile broadband now or in the future."

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski was looking for LightSquared to provide price and service competition to established nets like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, but the waiver was always conditioned on not interfering with adjacent GPS service.