LightSquared Blasts Opponents, Calls For Help To Pay For Interference Fix

Oct 3 2011 | 12:39pm ET

Harbinger Capital Management's wireless venture claims it has struck upon a solution for possible interference with global positioning systems—and that some GPS users should pay for it.

LightSquared said that it has already committed to pay $160 million to cover the costs of filters to fix the problem. But the company's general counsel said Friday that it shouldn't have to bear those costs alone.

"The GPS industry has to bear responsibility," Curtis Lu told reporters on a conference call. According to Lu, Trimble Navigation and other high-precision GPS users and manufacturers, have known about the potential problem since 2003 and should have acted earlier to prevent them.

In a statement, LightSquared further attacked its opponents, who warn that the company's planned 4G network will disrupt critical agricultural, weather and flight-tracking systems. The release extensively quoted Trimble and others, noting that as early as 2001, Trimble wrote in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that "emissions from mobile satellite services and other equipment operating in adjacent frequency bands… may materially and adversely affect the utility and reliability of our products."

LightSquared, which has already agreed to use a different spectrum than it originally planned to reduce GPS interference, also accuses GPS makers of using spectrum bands that they are not licensed to use.

"The GPS industry has known since our spectrum plan was approved in 2005 that it would need to begin building inexpensive filters into GPS devices to keep their devices from reaching our spectrum," LightSquared wrote. "They did nothing because they thought LightSquared would never move from concept to reality."

LightSquared's plans have most recently been attacked by Republican members of Congress, who note that Harbinger founder Philip Falcone has been a donor to President Barack Obama. But the company noted that it was "the Republican officials who led the FCC" in 2005 who originally approved its plans.


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