LightSquared responds to FCC, also plans to lay off 45% of workforce

As you may already know FCC decided to revoke permission for LightSquared to build a 4G wireless across America. So LightSquared responded to this with a press release which you can read after the break. FCC revoke permission for the network after they were convinced that the interference with GPS signals would be detrimental for various systems. Now the company revealed that they would lay off about 150 people (about 45% of their workforce) to save money.

LightSquared Inc. is backed up by hedge fund manager Philip Falcone who is saying that bankruptcy is not option though he can’t stop the rumor from spreading. They’re already behind on $56 million bill to Inmarsat. They spent $2.5 million on Washington lobbyists alone in 2011 which was tracked by

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FCC wants to kill LightSquared’s planned network

AP is reporting that FCC has reached a conclusion in favor of the GPS industry after National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), concluded that there’s no way to eliminate the risk of interference with GPS devices.

FCC now revoked LightSquared’s permit - after giving them a tentative approval last year. This is really bad news for LightSquared which had already spent about $4 billion on their network which planned to put about 40000 high power transmitters all around the U.S.

Also again, according to AP:

LightSquared is owned by Harbinger Capital Partners, a private-equity firm that made billions betting against subprime mortgages ahead of the collapse of the housing market.

In case this decision made you feel sorry about LightSquared, the above should take care of that :)

Who do you believe? LightSquared or GPS industry?

This has been going on for way too long. We’d like to know what our readers think about this issue. But very briefly here is what’s been going on:

LightSquared is trying to build a LTE network with about 40000 powerful ground transmitters. The frequency they are allocated sits right next to the frequency used by GPS receivers. GPS signals are much more weaker compared to LightSqaured signals. There’s going to be interference.

GPS industry is saying this is going to be devastating for GPS receivers used in aviation, cell phones, car and marine navigatoors, high precision devices used in agriculture, surveying, etc, and GPS Timing.

LightSquared is saying GPS interference tests are rigged, and the GPS receivers should be regulated so they won’t pickup signals from neighboring bands.

Who do you believe? LightSquared or GPS industry?

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LightSquared and GPS community have no solution

We’ve been talking about the battle between LightSquared and the GPS industry. The heart of the problem is that the spectrum for 4G network and the GPS signals are right next to each other and compared to GPS signals 4G signals are way way stronger, possibly causing interference.

In a report published June last year did indeed say this was the case.

“For the originally defined LightSquared spectrum deployment scenarios, GPS-based operations are expected to be unavailable over entire regions of the country at any normal operational aircraft altitude.”

So LightSquare’s solution was to use the dark orange band to the left to stay as far from regular GPS receivers as possible. This combined with better management of emissions from transmitter would save the sat nav systems used in aircrafts and cars.

However the super accurate high end GPS receivers are still very susceptible to interference because their radio frequency filters are very “liberal” and sometimes the augmentation signals used by them are actually transmitted from frequencies in the mobile satellite band.

I guess the problem is actually receivers not sticking to their allowed frequency since the receiver side of things is not really regulated by FCC.

However if you want more technical insight do read up on this article too.

GPS companies’ battle against LightSquared continues

Nextgov has a pretty good summary of what’s going lately with the interference problem caused by the proposed introduction of LightSquared’s 40,000 network towers.

Global Positioning System companies remain split on the best way to contend with LightSquared.

Representatives from three GPS-based companies spoke alongside LightSquared Executive Vice President Martin Harriman during the two-hour panel discussion, which was part of a National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board meeting in Alexandria, Va. The Reston, Va.-based startup company wants to develop a nationwide network of 40,000 cell towers that would provide broadband access across rural America, but opponents claim the network would interfere with existing GPS receivers. The Federal Communications Commission currently is looking into the matter.

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LightSquared showcases yet another “solution”

Trying to win the battle on spectrum wars LightSquared recently partnered with new technology companies to develop filtering devices to retrofit or replace antennas to overcome signal interference problems.

One of these companies was Javad GNSS, another is PCTEL, and another addition is now Partron America which apparently developed a filtering component for only $6.

According to LightSquared they have a solution to resolve issues with 99.75 of all devices on which they spent $100 million. They also claim the 400 million cell phones and auto GPS navigation systems that are currently in use are already compatible with LightSquared network.

fight between LightSquared and GPS industry continues

LightSquared had a press release come out couple of days ago flaming the wars between them and the GPS industry. LightSquared is saying GPS industry knew about the possible problems that may be caused by the use of adjacent frequencies for about a decade.

They say the GPS industry has known about all of the issues since 2005 but they didn’t get their act together to build inexpensive filters into GPS receivers that would keep their devices from reaching into our spectrum. Instead the GPS industry just chose to lobby against LightSquared instead of putting together a plan in the last eight years or so.

We’re not sure how they plan on doing this but LightSquared is saying they’re willing to get rid of the interference problem for 99.5 percent of all devices for an additional $100 million cost to them.

Now LightSquared says:

Who pays for the remaining devices that need a fix? Does the GPS industry believe it bears no fiscal responsibility for a problem that is of its own making? Or will it act responsibly and do as other industries have done when they go to market with a deficient device – offer a recall and fix the problem at its own expense?

You can read the whole release here.

LightSquared willing to retrofit GPS devices for the government

LightSquared, in attempt to convince the government to approve their giant plan launch a new 4G network, is willing to spend 10’s of millions of dollars to retrofit government GPS devices with a proprietary add-on. This proposed “solution” is nothing but a high-precision receiver that is capable of phasing out interferences caused by their own LTE network, which is right next to GPS signals on the radio frequency spectrum.

These receivers are to be manufactured by Javad and be ready by mid-October for testing. Another proposal from LightSquared is to use the lower 10MHz part of its L-Band spectrum, which it claims will have less interference with GPS receivers that are currently on the market.

Each of these high precision receivers will cost $50 to $300. However there’s no official record on how many units might be out there in hands of the government since some of them might actually be classified.

The Coalition To Save GPS, made up of mostly GPS manufacturers, is not happy with this proposed solution stating the claims of a single vendor that has ‘solved’ the problem can’t be significant and it requires more vigorous testing.

Lightsquared, which invested at least four billion dollars, is planning on wholesaling airwaves to cell phone companies to expand their 4G coverage. Sprint is probably waiting for this deal to go through so they continue competing with Verizon and AT&T.

LightSquared has no solution to GPS interference problem

Coalition to Save Our GPS has ripped apart the press release from LightSquared that announces a ‘solution’ that is really not a solution at all. Here are a few snippets from the coalition’s press release [pdf]

  • LightSquared’s claim that lower band operations would be largely free of interference for non-high precision GPS users is simply not true.
  • Even LightSquared admits that operation in the lower MSS band will not solve the interference problem for high precision uses. It fails to note that the harmful interference rate is 94 percent and the critical importance of those high precision users.
  • LightSquared’s proposal to “reduce” its permitted operating power actually represents an increase in power above the levels shown to create interference in recent tests.
  • LightSquared is still proposing to operate in the upper MSS band in the future, despite overwhelming evidence of massive interference and no credible support for any future technical solution.

Lightsquared buys more time to turn in GPS test results

LightSquared just got granted a two-week extension by federal regulators to turn in their report on tests that will determine whether their proposed high-speed wireless network would interfere with GPS signals all over the U.S.

The group studying the potential interference is mandated by the FCC is controlled by LightSquared but includes industry professional from GPS makers and users, and even federal agencies that rely on GPS technology.

LightSquared asked for more time to file their results which raises more questions whether the FCC will allow them to proceed with their new 4th generation wireless network that could compete AT&T and Verizon’s own networks.

The heart of the story is that GPS makers and users claim super powerful LightSquared towers (40 thousand of them) would interfere with relatively weaker GPS signals that would use a band that sits right next to GPS frequency.

The latest so far is that FCC gave LightSquared approval in January to build the system, but they have to stay on hold until GPS interference claims are resolved.