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Coalition files with FCC to block LightSquared spectrum use

Tue, 11/08/2011 - 2:49pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

In a filing with the FCC, the Coalition to Save Our GPS today called on the Commission to "promptly rule" that LightSquared can never use the upper mobile satellite spectrum (MSS) band for high-powered terrestrial operations.

The coalition argues in the filing that such use of the upper band "should be taken off the table now."

According to the coalition, the FCC International Bureau's decision to grant a conditional waiver for LightSquared to operate in the upper and lower 10 MHz MSS bands specified that LightSquared prove its planned operations would not cause interference with GPS and that "the FCC should make clear now that the condition imposed in the January 2011 Waiver Order has not been satisfied and that the waiver is revoked with respect to the upper MSS band."

"While all of the evidence points to the fact that LightSquared will never be able to use the upper 10 MHz band for terrestrial operations, LightSquared has refused to surrender its use of that spectrum for terrestrial use, making further progress on the potential use of the lower 10 MHz band much more difficult than it needs to be," the filing states.

The filing noted that there is "overwhelming technical evidence" that if LightSquared is permitted to operate in both the lower and upper MSS bands, those transmissions would create  "impermissible interference" with GPS and other satellite signals "well outside of LightSquared's authorized frequencies," and it said that once tests earlier this year had shown the use of the upper band caused devastating interference to GPS, "there has been little further consideration of the overwhelming evidence of problems with upper band operations," even though LightSquared has said it may need to use the upper band as early as 2015.

Meanwhile, LightSquared continues to partner with MVNOs. Today, the company announced a wholesale agreement with Red Pocket Mobile, which offers wireless service throughout the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As a wholesale-only operator, LightSquared proposes to deploy an open 4G wireless broadband network to be used by existing and new service providers to sell their own devices, applications and services.

LightSquared would deploy its network in the 1525-1559 MHz and 1626.5-1660.5 MHz bands, while GPS systems operate in the nearby 1559-1610 MHz.

LightSquared argues that "the FCC is requiring [it] to build a massive terrestrial network that reaches 260 million Americans by the end of 2015." The company has already launched a $1 billion satellite, and a second satellite is scheduled for launch next year.

"When LightSquared's network is completed, it will reflect a combined $14 billion private investment in satellite and terrestrial wireless infrastructure," LightSquared said last month. "Like many wireless companies, including AT&T and Verizon, LightSquared is investing in spectrum that was licensed to it before the spectrum auction process was put in place."

LightSquared has consistently cited statements from the FCC that it claims prove its network holds precedent over any interference issues with GPS systems.

LightSquared notes that in May of 2011, the FCC said that "LightSquared's predecessors have had access to this L-band satellite spectrum since 1995 and have been authorized to provide terrestrial service since 2004," adding that "in the case of GPS, we note that extensive terrestrial operations have been anticipated in the L-band for at least eight years."

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