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FCC grounds LightSquared’s plans

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has said that it plans to indefinitely suspend a conditional waiver that would allow US carrier LightSquared to build a ground-based LTE network using satellite spectrum.

The decision was made following a recommendation from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which said that it performed a “substantial amount of testing and analysis” regarding LightSquare’s plans and the impact they would have on GPS services. Its findings echoed those stated in a report issued by the executive committee for Space-based Positioning Navigation and Timing (PNT).

“We conclude that LightSquared’s proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services and that there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time,” the NTIA wrote in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

“Furthermore, while GPS equipment developers may be able to mitigate these issues via new technology in the future, the time and money required for federal, commercial and private sector users to replace technology in the field and the marketplace, on aircraft and in integrated national security systems cannot support the scheduled deployment of terrestrial services proposed by LightSquared.”

Despite the news, LightSquared said it remains committed to finding a resolution with the government and the GPS industry to resolve all concerns and intends to continue the ongoing efforts to explore engineering options and alternatives to find a solution to the issue. The firm also argued that the NTIA’s recommendation relied on the “flawed conclusions” of the PNT about LightSquared’s potential impact on GPS.

“LightSquared profoundly disagrees with both the NTIA’s and the PNT’s recommendations, which disregard more than a decade of regulatory orders, and in doing so, jeopardise private enterprise, jobs and investment in America’s future,” the company said in a statement.

“NTIA relies on interference standards that have never been used in this context, and were forced by the GPS community in order to reach the conclusions presented today. This, together with a severely flawed testing process that relied on obsolete and niche devices, shows that the FCC should take the NTIA’s recommendation with a generous helping of salt.”

LightSquared had intended to invest $14bn over the next eight years to build its network, which would sell wholesale wireless services to companies, which would then resell the service under their own brand names.

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