WASHINGTON, Dec. 22- Wireless network provider LightSquared Inc. asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this week to confirm the company’s right to use the spectrum licensed to the company by the federal government. However, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, warned in a letter today that such an action would be prohibited by legislation recently approved by Congress and waiting for the President’s signature.
Turner says the proposed network interferes with Department of Defense (DOD) Global Positioning Systems (GPS) receivers. Farm equipment manufacturers, including Deere & Co. and Trimble navigation, which produce GPS-based navigation systems, have also criticized the LightSquared proposal.
“The President will shortly sign the National Defense Authorization Act for FY12, which contains a provision I sponsored with Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) that will prohibit FCC approval of the LightSquared network until concerns about its widespread harmful interference with DOD’s Global Positioning System are resolved. I understand the company has recently petitioned the FCC to approve its network immediately,” Turner said in a statement.
“Such approval, in view of the recent test results of the LightSquared network’s effect on GPS receivers, would be prohibited by our legislation. The FCC should take no actions inconsistent with the bipartisan and bicameral position of the Congress that our first goal must be to protect DOD GPS systems.”
Lightsquared maintains that incompatibility problems are not its fault. In addition, the company asked the FCC to confirm that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from LightSquared’s network since they are not licensed users of that spectrum.
The firm plans to build a network covering 260 million Americans by 2015.
“The one inescapable conclusion from two rounds of independent testing is that the incompatibility problem is not caused by LightSquared’s network,” said LightSquared’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy Jeff Carlisle. “It is clear that GPS devices are purposefully designed to look into LightSquared’s licensed spectrum, and given this evidence, we believe decision-makers should consider LightSquared’s legal rights as the licensee.”
The company asserts that commercial GPS manufacturers are responsible for having designed and sold unlicensed devices that use spectrum licensed to LightSquared and its predecessor companies.
“(C)ommercial GPS receivers are not licensed, do not operate under any service rules, and thus are not entitled to any interference protection whatsoever,’’ LightSquared wrote in its petition to the agency. The petition also notes that the FCC itself has stated that the GPS industry has been on notice for almost a decade that LightSquared was planning to use its spectrum to launch a nationwide broadband network.
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