The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) are voicing new concerns over LightSquared’s hybrid satellite-terrestrial LTE network, which they fear will interfere with government GPS systems.
In a letter penned to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski by transportation deputy secretary John Porcari and William Lynn, deputy secretary of defense, the agencies state they were “not sufficiently included” in the development of the LightSquared’s initial work plan to address potential GPS interference issues caused by its network.
“We are concerned with this lack of inclusiveness regarding input from federal stakeholders,” Porcari and Lynn wrote in their March 25 letter to the FCC.
The agencies want the FCC to conduct a comprehensive study of all potential interference to GPS. LightSquared is currently conducting an investigation on the issue through an FCC-mandated working group.
FCC spokesman Robert Kenny sought to alleviate the agencies’ concerns.
“LightSquared will not be permitted to move forward with service under the waiver until potential interference issues are addressed,” he said. “The process followed in addressing those issues will include the ongoing input of our federal partners, the GPS community and industry.”
LightSquared expects to begin commercial operations of its wireless network in the first quarter of next year. The company has already signed Leap Wireless International and Best Buy as the first customers for its wholesale LTE service and says it is negotiating contracts with 15 other companies.
Jeff Carlisle, executive vice president of regulatory affairs at LightSquared, said the company is fully cooperating with federal agencies to address potential problems with their GPS systems.
“We are sensitive to concerns about potential interference which is why we have fully committed ourselves to a comprehensive process that will ensure our network can coexist with GPS devices and agreed to only launch commercial operations when this process is completed to the FCC’s satisfaction,” Carlisle said.
In addition to the FCC working group, Carlisle said LightSquared has provided equipment and personnel to the U.S. Air Force’s Space Command, NASA and other federal agencies to help them begin their own testing processes.
Several government agencies, including the DOD, DOT and Homeland Security, previously expressed concerns that LightSquared’s network could cause large dead zones in federal GPS services. LightSquared’s LTE network uses satellite spectrum located next to airwaves used for GPS systems.
GPS receivers have a tendency to pick up signals outside the band they operate in. So far, that has not been a problem because the band where LightSquared would operate in has been vacant, Kenny said. The FCC, LightSquared and other stakeholders in the GPS industry are currently working to investigate the extent of interference issues when LightSquared begins commercial operations.
Filed Under: Industry regulations