LightSquared Claims Federal Committee Statement Biased on GPS Interference Issue
[Satellite News 01-17-12] LightSquared is disputing a Jan. 13 letter statement from the National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee, which reached a unanimous conclusion that the company’s plan to use Inmarsat lower frequency signals would still affect spectrum utilized by the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system.
“It is the unanimous conclusion of the test findings by the National Space-Based PNT EXCOM Agencies that both LightSquared’s original and modified plans for its proposed mobile network would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers,” the letter said.
The wholesale 4G LTE network operator, which has owned spectrum licenses for eight years, said the statement was evidence of a “systemic pattern of bias and collusion. Members of the Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee Advisory Board have deep ties with the same GPS manufacturers who have sold poorly designed equipment to America’s farmers, public safety officials, military and government agencies.”
The National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee does include a board member of GPS maker Trimble Navigation. LightSquared alleged that this industry connection led the committee to use unrealistically strong power levels and outdated GPS receivers in their testing.
The statement letter was signed by the U.S. Depts. Of Transportation and Defense and written by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari and addressed to Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information. The statement added that an analysis by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also has concluded that the LightSquared proposals are not compatible with several GPS-dependent aircraft safety-of-flight systems. In a statement issued last week, a White House committee called the LightSquared network, “an impossible dream.”
LightSquared has $3 billion invested in the L-band system. In January 2011, the company received FCC approval to offer a terrestrial-only version of its service on the basis that it would not interfere with GPS applications. Mobile service provider Sprint hopes to LightSquared as a second source of high-speed data networking, as its 4G-LTE network is backed by a hybrid of earthbound radio towers plus a unique direct satellite uplink. Sprint extended LightSquared’s deadlines for FCC approval by a month.
Though the committee statement is only a recommendation, it could weigh in on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s final verdict. LightSquared maintains that technological solutions to the GPS problem are within reach and is asking for another round of testing.