LightSquared may seek extension on GPS report

The LTE-satellite carrier is due to report Wednesday on interference tests

LightSquared said it may ask for another two weeks to compile a report on possible interference between its planned cellular network and the GPS system, as a Wednesday deadline for the report loomed.

As a condition for approval of the carrier's plan for a combined satellite and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission required that LightSquared form a working group with partners from the Global Positioning System industry to test interference and propose ways to mitigate it. The group's final report was due Wednesday but had not appeared as the end of the business day in Washington, D.C., neared.

Late Wednesday afternoon, there was still information coming in for use in the report, according to LightSquared spokesman Chris Stern.

"It's a lot to digest, and we want to do this right," Stern said, explaining the possible request to the FCC for an extension until July 1. He did not rule out the possibility that the report would be released after business hours on Wednesday.

Following the FCC's requirements, LightSquared formed a Technical Working Group to devise and carry out test plans for GPS interference. The group has been issuing monthly reports since March 15 and was due to release its final report on Wednesday.

LightSquared's plan is to combine satellite and LTE into a mobile data network that is available in remote regions of the U.S. and offers higher speeds in metropolitan areas. But some of the frequencies it plans to use for LTE are next to spectrum already allocated for signals between GPS satellites and the devices that use them, including mobile phones and vehicle navigation systems.

Some agencies have already outlined the results from tests conducted with LightSquared. They showed that interference was significant in many cases, raising the spectre of aircraft losing GPS capability across much of the Northeastern U.S., and public safety, U.S. Coast Guard, scientific and consumer GPS systems losing some or all coverage in the vicinity of LightSquared LTE towers.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Tags mobileGPStelecommunicationconsumer electronicssatelliteU.S. Federal Communications CommissionLightSquared

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
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