A LightSquared at the end of the tunnel? Stricken firm linked with spectrum-sharing trial

2 May 2013

According to an unconfirmed report by Wireless Week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted would-be Long Term Evolution (LTE) wholesale operator LightSquared authorisation to stage a three-month investigation into the technical feasibility of using the 1675MHz–1680MHz band for mobile broadband services – on a shared basis with existing federal departments. The struggling start-up was given the green-light after a review by the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC), a body charged with developing and executing policies and technical criteria relating to the allocation, management and use of spectrum allocated for US government purposes. The process is said to be similar in nature to the experimental authority granted to T-Mobile to assess the feasibility of sharing spectrum with the Department of Defence.

If the report is accurate, the development offers a rare glimmer of sunlight in LightSquared’s otherwise gloomy situation. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in February 2012 the FCC declared that LightSquared’s use of non-traditional frequencies in the 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz bands interfered with GPS satellite navigation devices and aircraft flight safety equipment. Subsequent months saw the stricken company beset with myriad financial and legal problems, before being forced into bankruptcy in May. Republicans questioned how LightSquared got so far along in the process before the regulatory red flag was raised.