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Sprint gives LightSquared until mid-March for FCC clearance

Wed, 02/01/2012 - 2:11pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Sprint has agreed to give LightSquared until mid-March to resolve GPS interference problems that have delayed the launch of its LTE network.

"Sprint and LightSquared have extended their agreement until mid-March to give LightSquared additional time to address issues associated with the 1.6 spectrum," a Sprint spokesman said. "Sprint supports LightSquared's business plans and efforts to resolve potential interference issues expediently."

The companies did not say how they would proceed if LightSquared failed to get FCC clearance.

Sprint was hired by LightSquared last summer to host its 1.6 GHz spectrum on new dual-mode CDMA/LTE equipment being installed for the operator's network modernization project.

One base station compatible with the satellite spectrum went live in early December, but continued gridlock over the launch of LightSquared's LTE network prompted the two companies to halt further work on the project at the end of last year.

The FCC won't let LightSquared move forward with its proposal to build a wholesale LTE network in spectrum formerly used for satellite service until it can prove its transmitters won't affect GPS, which is used everywhere from smartphones to high-precision missile systems.

Tests conducted earlier last year found that LightSquared's network knocked out most GPS service, prompting the company to move its service to spectrum located farther away from GPS bands.

But recent government tests showed the service had a widespread impact on GPS, even under the revised deployment scheme, which LightSquared claimed had largely fixed the problem.

LightSquared claims the government tests were rigged and is calling for additional independent testing.

Meanwhile, the FCC put up for public comment LightSquared's assertion that GPS receivers are "not entitled to any interference protection whatsoever." The comment period extends until March 13 and could give the company more time to conduct additional tests or come up with a fix to the interference issue.

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