FCC: LightSquared Won’t Be Permitted To Mess With GPS

Aug 10 2011 | 5:13am ET

Harbinger Capital Management’s ambitious plan to build a nationwide satellite broadband network will only be permitted to move forward if it can find a way to avoid interfering with global positioning systems, federal regulators said yesterday.

At a press conference, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said his agency is evaluating LightSquared’s proposals to reduce interference with GPS users. The FCC, which has given LightSquared a crucial, if tentative, waiver to pursue its plans, will not “do anything that creates problems for GPS safety and service as we explore technical solutions that will both protect GPS and allow a new service to launch,” Genachowski said, adding that “the facts and engineering” would decide the case.

The FCC said it wants the most efficient use of the airwaves, which LightSquared’s current plans do not allow. But that’s of little comfort to opponents of LightSquared, who want the company barred from using any part of the spectrum used by GPS.

The agency said that it could not guarantee that its review will be finished by next month; LightSquared has said it expects approval to launch by then. The FCC has set an Aug. 15 deadline to receive comments about LightSquared’s latest proposal.

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