LightSquared submits GPS report to FCC

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 10:29 AM
LightSquared submits GPS report to FCC

NEW YORK (Reuters) - LightSquared, the telecom startup backed by Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital hedge fund, said on Thursday that it had filed a long-awaited report detailing interference problems with GPS services.

The company, whose plans to build a high-speed wireless network have come up against strong opposition from GPS users because of interference issues, called for cooperation from the GPS community to help resolve the problem.

If LightSquared manages to overcome interference problems, it would also need billions of dollars in additional funding, on top of the $3.1 billion Harbinger has already sunk into the company, to build its network.

LightSquared proposed earlier this month that it would use a different swath of airwaves than it had originally planned, saying this would eliminate 99.5 percent of the interference problems found in tests.

But the GPS community, which supports services as diverse as aviation navigation and public safety systems, immediately rejected that proposal. U.S. government officials called for more testing of LightSquared's planned network.

For its part, LightSquared said on Thursday in an announcement of the filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, that the interference problems stemmed from GPS manufacturers' design of products "that depend on using spectrum assigned to other FCC licenses."

Under its revamped proposal, it said only 200,000 GPS devices out of 300 million would risk interference with its network. It promised not to start its service unless the FCC and other government agencies are satisfied that it has resolved its interference problems.

"LightSquared is fully committed to finding a solution," the company said. "It is unthinkable that a nation which recently completed a complex digital-television transition involving nearly every household in the U.S. will be stymied by a problem posed by approximately 200,000 GPS devices."

LightSquared has told its investors that it struck an agreement to share wireless broadcast towers with Sprint Nextel to reduce its network construction costs. Sprint has not confirmed or denied the agreement.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Lisa Von Ahn)