FCC to suspend LightSquared network over GPS interference

15 Feb 2012

US telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is preparing to block LightSquared’s planned nationwide wireless broadband network, after an investigation by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NITA) determined that the proposed open-access Long Term Evolution (LTE) network would disrupt GPS system devices. Bloomberg cites FCC spokesperson Tammy Sun as saying in an e-mailed statement that the regulator is preparing to withdraw the preliminary approval it granted last year for LightSquared to build the high speed network. ‘The commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted,’ Sun said. ‘The commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared.’ In a letter sent to the FCC yesterday, Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the NTIA, said tests found that LightSquared’s network would interfere with GPS satellite navigation devices and aircraft flight safety equipment. ‘There are no mitigation strategies that both solve the interference issues and provide LightSquared with an adequate commercial network deployment,’ Strickling said. LightSquared, which is backed by Harbinger Capital Partners, a hedge fund run by millionaire Philip Falcone, has already signed agreements with a number of customers to take wholesale services on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states. The company hoped to have over 40 million connected consumer terrestrial devices (on a wholesale basis) by 2015, equating to 92% population coverage by that date.