Pentagon, Transportation Dept. Object To LightSquared Network

Mar 31 2011 | 2:31am ET

The U.S. Departments of Defense and Transportation have again raised concerns about LightSquared, the wireless broadband venture funded by Harbinger Capital Management.

The two cabinet departments reiterated concerns expressed to the Federal Communications Commission in January, that LightSquared's service could interfere with military and aviation GPS systems. The FCC brushed off those concerns, as well as those of the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security, granting a necessary waiver to LightSquared allowing it to begin building its network.

But the Pentagon and Transportation Department are undeterred, calling on the FCC to undertake "a comprehensive study of all the potential interference to GPS." The two agencies fear that LightSquared's use of a frequency close to that used by GPS systems could present a major problem.

"The new LightSquared business plan and the new FCC rules significantly expand the terrestrial transmission environment, increasing the potential for interference to GPS receivers," William Lynn, deputy Defense secretary, and John Porcari, deputy transportation secretary, wrote.

LightSquared has already signed deals with Best Buy and Leap Wireless International, and is in talks with more than a dozen others, including major cable companies.

"LightSquared will not be permitted to move forward with service under the waiver until potential interference issues are addressed," FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said.

"We are sensitive to concerns about potential interference, which is why we have fully committed ourselves to a comprehensive process that will ensure our network can co-exist with GPS devices and agreed to only launch commercial operations when this process is completed to the FCC's satisfaction," LightSquared's Jeff Carlisle said.


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