FCC and NTIA Deliver Significant Double Blow to LightSquared

By | February 16, 2012 | ST Briefs, Telecom

[Satellite TODAY 02-16-12]  LightSquared’s ambitions of building a next-generation mobile broadband network in the United States have been dealt a severe blow after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)issued a letter to the FCC in which it concluded “LightSquared’s proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services and there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time.”
            The FCC has wasted little time in acting on this situation, and its actions do not bode well for LightSquared. FCC spokesperson Tammy Sun said in a statement issued Feb. 15, “NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time. Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared. The International Bureau of the Commission is proposing to (1) vacate the Conditional Waiver Order, and (2) suspend indefinitely LightSquared’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority to an extent consistent with the NTIA letter. A Public Notice seeking comment on NTIA’s conclusions and on these proposals will be released tomorrow.”
            The news of the NTIA letter and the FCC statement has provoked different reactions. “I am glad that the FCC has realized what our military leaders and Congress have been saying all along — LightSquared’s proposed network will dangerously impair GPS receivers and our military’s ability to train and operate. This responsible step by the FCC, albeit months late, is encouraging. I hope that they will continue this course and will not allow any harmful interference to our national security GPS network. Congress will have to safeguard this spectrum, whether it is held by LightSquared or any successor,” Congressman Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said in a statement issued Feb. 15.
            LightSquared reacted angrily to the findings of the NTIA. It released a bullish statement Feb. 14, saying, “NTIA relies on interference standards that have never been used in this context, and were forced by the GPS community in order to reach the conclusions presented today. This, together with a severely flawed testing process that relied on obsolete and niche devices, shows that the FCC should take the NTIA’s recommendation with a generous helping of salt.”

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