GPS issues mean that LightSquared's satellite and ground-station based network may never get of the ground

LightSquared, the aspiring US LTE carrier, has received a hammer blow to its hopes of shaking up the US market with a wholesale LTE network from a damning report released last week by the executive committee for Space-based Positioning Navigation & Timing (PNT).

The report, sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) stated that according to the latest round of tests, “there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS.”

This is despite repeated protests from LightSquared that there are several measures that can be taken to mitigate or remove the interference between its licensed ‘L band’ 1600MHz spectrum and that of the GPS devices, such as reducing its transmission power and the creation of LightSquared compatible receivers by Javad GNSS.

LightSquared has placed the blame for the interference squarely on the shoulders of the GPS industry, stating that it is GPS devices that are leaking into LightSquared’s frequencies due to poor filter design. However, LightSquared’s arguments have not swayed the PNT and the report said that, “as a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time.”

The report would suggest that it is unlikely that the US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), would approve the launch of the LightSquared network.

LightSquared has responded strongly to the report, claiming that the PNT tests were ‘rigged’, due to the tests being conducted on obsolete devices, using power level 32-times that at which LightSquared would be operating its network, and with an unrealistic margin for failure of 1dB. It also claimed that members of the PNT advisory board, “have professional connections to companies that are members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS.” LightSquared said it would seek an explanation for the apparent conflict of interest.

Despite the highly published and ongoing GPS related issues, LightSquared has continued to make deals for its wholesale network, signing up a 37th customer, Hometown Telecom just yesterday. However, its major network partner Sprint, said that its construction plans were on hold while the GPS issues remained unresolved and said that extended delays could cause it to call off the deal completely, which could threaten the viability of LightSquared’s plans.

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