LightSquared vows to keep seeking a GPS solution

Responding to a decision that could sink it, the carrier called on other parties to join in solving a conflict over GPS interference

LightSquared said Wednesday it still wants to find a solution to the GPS interference issue that has probably already doomed the fledgling carrier's plans for a nationwide mobile broadband network.

In response to a public notice from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, LightSquared slammed the agency's decision to move toward banning its planned LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network but vowed to keep up the fight.

LightSquared wants to operate the LTE network in its licensed spectrum, which is next to the band used by GPS. On Tuesday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration concluded that tests have shown too much interference between the two systems and said there is no way to mitigate the interference at this time. On that basis, the FCC proposed steps that probably would make it impossible for LightSquared to run the LTE network.

LightSquared insisted there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We remain committed to finding a solution and believe that if all the parties have that same level of commitment, a solution can be found," LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said in a written statement.

Repeating earlier complaints that politics had trumped science in the government's decisions about LightSquared's plans, Ahuja said the government had turned to LightSquared to provide mobile broadband to 260 million U.S. residents and then changed its mind. In the meantime, the company had invested US$4 billion in the project, he wrote.

"Unfortunately, with its action yesterday, the FCC has harmed not only LightSquared, but also the American public by making it impossible to build out a system that would meet public policy goals of successive administrations," Ahuja wrote. "There can be no more devastating blow to private industry confidence in the consistency of the FCC's decision-making process."

The FCC's public notice addressed proposals by the agency's International Division, which has overseen the LightSquared project, that are likely to sink the company's plans. It proposed removing a conditional waiver that is crucial to LightSquared's business model and indefinitely suspending its ability to operate a land-based network.

The fallout from the FCC's move had already begun on Wednesday. FreedomPop, a mobile broadband startup that had signed up as a wholesale customer of LightSquared's network, announced a strategic partnership with Clearwire.

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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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
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