WASHINGTON, February 15, 2012 -The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) delivered a blow to LightSquared’s plans Tuesday when it told the Federal Communications Commission that the firm’s plans to build a nation-wide 4G wireless broadband network will impact Global Positioning System (GPS) services and “there is “no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time.”

The FCC now says it will propose revoking LightSquared's conditional waiver and suspend its authority to operate cell towers. The FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver to move forward last year, but the company needed to show that it could solve the interference problem.

In a Feb. 14 letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Lawrence Strickling, the assistant secretary for communications and information who heads NTIA, said his agency’s independent evaluation of the proposed system revealed that, “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.”

Last month, the U.S. National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee (PNT) concluded that the LightSquared network could “cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers” as well as the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS). (See the 1-18-12 edition of Agri-Pulse.) The final regulatory decision rests with the FCC.

In response to the NTIA’s recommendation, LightSquared said it “remains committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry to resolve all remaining concerns. LightSquared is confident that the parties will continue the on-going efforts to explore all engineering options and alternatives to find a solution to this difficult issue.”

The firm also criticized both the NTIA and the PNT recommendations, which company officials said “disregard more than a decade of regulatory orders, and in doing so, jeopardize private enterprise, jobs and investment in America's future. 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.” For a copy of the NTIA letter, click HERE.


Original story printed in February 15, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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