LightSquared Attacks 'Bogus' Tests

Jan 19 2012 | 1:18pm ET

Harbinger Capital Partners' wireless Internet venture has blasted test results that show its system interfering with global positioning systems as "bogus" and "rigged."

LightSquared's claims follow a government advisory board's unanimous recommendation that testing of its system end. The Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing National Executive Committee told the Commerce Dept. last week that no"practical solutions or mitigations" could be found to prevent the LightSquared network from interfering with GPS.

But LightSquared's Jeffrey Carlisle said the tests by the U.S. Air Force's Space Command were anything but comprehensive, focusing on obsolete and niche devices and conducted in secrecy.

"The testing just doesn't reflect reality—and it was probably never intended to," Carlisle, LightSquared's executive vice president, said. The Air Force tests were "rigged by manufacturers of GPS receivers and government end-users to produce bogus results."

Carlisle called for more tests.

Its opponents shot back that "LightSquared does not like the test results so it is attacking the testers."

"Test after test has shown that LightSquared's ill-conceived plans do in fact cause widespread interference with GPS," Jim Kirkland, general counsel of GPS manufacturer Trimble Navigation and a leading member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, said.

Harbinger has invested more than half of its assets in LightSquared, and some of its fellow hedge funds are smelling blood in the water. Notable among them are Icahn Capital and Appaloosa Management, who bought up big chunks of the $300 million LightSquared debt sold in December by yet another hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management.

LightSquared debt has fallen precipitously in price since the venture ran into trouble. Icahn's purchase, in particular, means he may believe a restructuring of the company is imminent.

"Carl is certainly entitled to his opinion," Harbinger chief Philip Falcone told The Wall Street Journal, "as I am entitled to disagree with it."

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