LightSquared Proposes Solution To GPS Problem

Jun 30 2011 | 1:14pm ET

LightSquared, the wireless broadband baby of hedge fund manager Phil Falcone, has proposed a “three-part” solution for resolving the GPS interference issues that threaten to shut the network down before it even starts.

In a statement released Thursday, LightSquared, which is majority owned by Falcone’s hedge fund Harbinger Capital Management, blames GPS device manufacturers for a) designing products “that depend on using spectrum assigned to other FCC licensees” and b) offering no solution to the problem other than calling on the government to “block LightSquared from using the company's own spectrum to roll out the first wholesale-only wireless broadband network for the entire nation.”

LightSquared says the problem could have been avoided if the GPS industry had equipped their devices with cheap filters.

"This issue will be resolved by good data, smart engineers and good faith problem solving dialog. The end-result will be continuity for the reliable and safe GPS system we have come to depend on along with a new high speed wireless network that will provide huge benefits to consumers,'' said Sanjiv Ahuja, LightSquared chairman and CEO.

Tests submitted to federal regulators Thursday confirm that LightSquared does interfere with GPS services, although LightSquared claims its proposed solution resolves interference for about 99.5% of all commercial GPS devices.

The GPS industry says this isn’t good enough. Jim Kirkland, vice president of GPS firm Trimble, told the Washington Post, “There is no existing technology that solves this interference, only unproven claims of hypothetical future fixes.”

The FCC has said it won’t allow LightSquared to launch its business until the interference question is answered. The WP quotes FCC spokesman Neil Grace as saying the agency will review the report it received Thursday.

“The FCC has a long-standing record of resolving interference disputes based on engineering data,” Grace said. “Our nation cannot afford to let spectrum go underutilized. America's economic growth and global competitiveness are on the line.”

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