Feds doom LightSquared’s LTE 4G network
Nine federal agencies decided that none of LightSquared’s proposals for its LTE 4G broadband network would overcome significant interference with GPS (Global Positioning System) devices. The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee (PNT ExComm) announced Friday that the nine federal agencies that make up the body made the decision unanimously.
PNT ExComm released a memo on Friday with its findings after being involved in testing the proposed network at the request of the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which were providing LightSquared opportunities to provide alternatives to its original proposed network.
Both the original and modified proposals by LightSquared would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers, the PNT ExComm chairmen said in the memo. The agency also said a Federal Aviation Administration analysis had concluded the network would be incompatible with aircraft safety systems.
"Based upon this testing and analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time," the memo said.
LightSquared reacted to the decision by claiming “bias and inappropriate collusion” by the government. It claimed the process used to evaluate its original and proposed plans was compromised by a conflict of interest since one of the government’s key advisers on the matter is a board member of Trimble, a manufacturer of GPS receiver equipment.
The company further called for an investigation into the alleged conflicts of interest by the PNT Advisory Board, which advises the PNT ExComm. LightSquared said both the PNT Advisory Board and PNT ExComm had abandoned their commitment to test GPS receiver filters that LightSquared believes can solve the interference issue.
“Under an agreement worked out directly between representatives of Trimble—the same company that has paid for a year-long lobbying campaign against LightSquared’s network—LightSquared was specifically excluded from the testing process,” the press release said. “The devices selected as part of the most recent round of testing include numerous obsolete and off-market GPS receivers that nearly guaranteed failure. Power levels used for testing were 32 times that of real-world conditions further stacking the deck in favor of GPS industry interests.”