FCC Deals Blow to LightSquared

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Federal Communications Commission proposed to revoked its conditional approval of LightSquared’s planned wireless network due to continuing GPS interference concerns. The action comes after an opinion by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which said that “there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time” with GPS devices.

The FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver to move forward in 2011, but the company was required to demonstrate that it could first solve the interference problem.

The move deals a serious blow to Philip Falcone and his investment firm, Harbinger Capital, who invested billions of dollars in LightSquared’s plan to build a nationwide high-speed cellphone network.

To read the entire report from Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, click here.

Strickling, who also leads the NTIA, noted that government testing showed LightSquared’s network would cause widespread problems with GPS devices, including those used by pilots to prevent their airplanes from crashing.

"We conclude at this time that there are no mitigation strategies that both solve the interference issues and provide LightSquared with an adequate commercial network deployment," Strickling wrote. He concluded that even if LightSquared could develop a technology to fix the interference problem, “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.”

The Coalition to Save Our GPS was formed last year to oppose the LightSquared plan due to the GPS interference issues. The Aircraft Electronics Association is a member of this coalition. To read a statement from the Coaltion to Save Our GPS on the LightSquared conclusions, click here.