In the ongoing radio spectrum dispute between LightSquared and GPS equipment makers, LightSquared has made the next move. The Reston, Va., company has asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to confirm its right to use the spectrum licensed to the company by the federal government. In addition, the company says it wants the FCC to confirm that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from the LightSquared network.
The company has maintained for some time that GPS equipment makers are using spectrum beyond what they're allowed. This petition will push that point with the FCC. In a press statement announcing the petition, Jeff Carlisle, vice president of regulatory affairs and public policy, says: "The one inescapable conclusion from two rounds of independent testing is that the incompatibility problem is not causes by LightSquarde's network. 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."
Carlisle says the FCC authorized the company to build its network eight years ago and that the original license was endorsed by the GPS industry. "Commercial GPS device makers have had nearly a decade to design and sell devices that do not infringe on LightSquared's licensed spectrum," he says.
The key move in the petition - to confirm that GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection - is the greatest point of contention. The Save Our GPS coalition has long maintained that LightSquared needs to pick up the tab for any changes needed to existing receivers before it can implement its new network.
The LightSquared high-speed Internet system will use 40,000 towers placed around the country to provide a 4G LTE (for long-term evolution) backbone that other companies can use. Dozens have already signed on as partners of LightSquared in anticipation of the building of the new network. This GPS interference issue remains the key stumbling block.
In the press statement, Carlisle adds: "While we ask the FCC today to confirm our legal rights, LightSquared remains fully committed to cooperate with all parties - the GPS industry, GPS users and the federal government" to ensure the new network is deployed in a way that is compatible. He adds that the company recognizes the importance of GPS and believes "that GPS devices can peacefully co-exist adjacent to our network."
The LightSquared commitment is to have broadband available to 260 million Americans by 2015 - an effort that will cost $14 billion. The company says it will work with the government to develop a "complete solution" to the interference issues.