Feds Seek Solution To LightSquared GPS Problem

Jun 24 2011 | 9:29am ET

Harbinger Capital Partners’ wireless broadband venture faces more tests to address the question of interference with global positioning systems, but U.S. officials seem more interested in solving the problems than shutting Phil Falcone’s operations down.

Tests of the spectrum of frequencies the venture initially intended to use showed significant impact on GPS systems, but the company then proposed a different spectrum, claiming it would reduce the risk for 99.5% of all U.S. GPS receivers.

The issue was discussed during a joint hearing of two House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittees on Thursday. According to Reuters, Department of Transportation Under Secretary for Policy Roy Kienitz  told the committees, “We have now tested one proposal here, and we found unfortunately that it did not work as originally hoped. That does not mean the story is over.

"Our goal at DOT is to look for a win-win where we can have much better broadband service nationwide, but to do so without disrupting GPS and vital services it provides.”

LightSquare accounts for some 60% of Harbinger’s holdings. The hedge fund has already invested $3.1 billion in the wireless network and, despite uncertainties over GPS interference, has inked deals with Sprint, which will help build and run the network as well as becoming a customer, and Best Buy, which will resell the service under its own brand name.

LightSquared executive vice president Jeffrey Carlisle reiterated that the company would not operate in any way that would jeopardize the safety of government, commercial aviation or maritime operations.

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