Report Cites GPS Interference As LightSquared Pitches Plan B - Multichannel

Report Cites GPS Interference As LightSquared Pitches Plan B

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GPS advocates were saying a just-released report essentially spelled
doom for a novel wireless network plan, while the company that has
invested billions in the proposed network was pitching plan B.

LightSquared
would provide a wholesale 4G wireless net that cable operators and
others could use to add branded wireless to their bundles.

"The
LightSquared Terrestrial Broadband Service Will Cause Harmful
Interference to Nearly All GPS Receivers and GPS‐Dependent
Applications." That is one of the conclusions in a summary of the
just-released FCC working group report on tests of LightSquared's
proposed next-generation hybrid 4G wireless network.

The FCC had
granted LightSquared a waiver to build the terrestrial network using
satellite spectrum, but conditioned it on not interfering with GPS
devices on adjacent spectrum. The FCC saw, and still sees, LightSquared
as one way of addressing the spectrum crunch/deployment gap in wireless
broadband. so long as the interference issues can be resolved.

LightSquared
got a two-week delay on the June 30 release of the report--the FCC
working group included representatives of both LightSquared and the
United States Global Positioning System Industry Council (USGIC)--and in
the meantime  pitched the FCC on a compromise approach--it filed the
plan with the commission Thursday--that would employ spectrum less
adjacent to GPS and at reduced power levels.

Conceding that early
tests indicated that the 10 MHz block of spectrum it planned to use for
its initial nationwide launch did pose that interference risk, the
company said it was proposing going to that plan B.

It
will use an alternative block that it says "greatly reduces" that risk
and is located further away from the GPS frequencies, and will not use
the original block that caused so much outcry until and unless the FCC
gives the go-ahead.

In addition, the company said that it will
reduce its base station power by more than 50%, "which will provide
additional protection to GPS."

"This is a solution which ensures
that tens of millions of GPS users won't be affected by LightSquared's
launch. At the same time, this plan offers a clear path for LightSquared
to move forward with the launch of a nationwide wireless network that
will introduce world class broadband service to rural and underserved
areas which still find themselves on the wrong side of the digital
divide,'' said Sanjiv Ahuja, LightSquared chairman and CEO in a
statement.

USGIC does not see it that way.

"Based on the
overwhelming evidence of incompatibility between LightSquared's proposed
4G LTE terrestrial broadband service and GPS receivers and
GPS‐dependent applications in the adjacent band, the only feasible
option is relocation of LightSquared's terrestrial operations from a
satellite spectrum neighborhood to one that is better suited for
terrestrial operations," the group said in summarizing the findings.

Various government agencies have also raised concerns about the interference to GPS, including the Department of Commerce.

FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski has been high on the idea of the wholesale
broadband net since at least last summer. When the project was
announced, he said it represented "more than $7 billion of new
investment, with the potential to create more than 100,000 new
private-sector jobs within five years. Today's announcement shows that
FCC policies are helping grow the U.S. economy by catalyzing investment
and job creation," he said.

FCc spokesman Neil Grace said the FCC
would study the working group report carefully and resolve any
interference concerns the commission has.

"The Commission
appreciates the hard work the working group has contributed to this
report. The FCC has a long-standing record of resolving interference
disputes based on engineering data. As is customary, the agency's expert
staff will now conduct a thorough and expeditious review of the report.
As Chairman Genachowski has said before, we will not permit
LightSquared to begin commercial service without first resolving our
concerns about potential harmful interference to GPS

devices," he
told B&C/Multi. "Nevertheless, our nation cannot afford to let
spectrum go underutilized. America's economic growth and global
competitiveness are on the line. The Commission is confident in the
public process underway designed to determine whether LightSquared's
mobile broadband offering can coexist with services provided by GPS for
the benefit of our nation."

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