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LightSquared is Dead
FCC Revokes Waiver on Hybrid Network Spectrum
by Karl Bode 10:28AM Wednesday Feb 15 2012 Tipped by SrsBsns See Profile
The FCC has put a nail in the coffin for LightSquared, late yesterday stating they'd be revoking LightSquared's spectrum waiver. The waiver on spectrum that would have been used for the hybrid satellite/LTE network was doled out just about a year ago, with the FCC saying they hoped the network would help increase competition. However, LightSquared's technology was repeatedly shown to cause significant interference, and combined with a little political pressure on lawmakers from AT&T and Verizon (who for obvious reasons don't want this network built), the result was a massive political firestorm.

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What happens now? Last October LightSquared stated they'd sue the FCC if they backed away from the waiver, so the network now hits the court and runs a bureaucratic gauntlet. With LightSquared cash limited the fight will be difficult, and the 35 wholesale partners who have signed network sharing arrangements need a new plan (read: Sprint).

Last July, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said he was so optimistic the FCC would approve the waiver that he wasn't planning for any other outcome. Recently however, with unresolvable GPS issues, fading cash reserves and backer Phil Falcone facing several unrelated SEC inquiries, LightSquared had begun giving off a particular odor. It's possible the plan survives this, but it's very unlikely.

The full FCC statement:
LightSquared’s proposal to provide ground-based mobile service offered the potential to unleash new spectrum for mobile broadband and enhance competition. The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted. This is why the Conditional Waiver Order issued by the Commission’s International Bureau prohibited LightSquared from beginning commercial operations unless harmful interference issues were resolved.

NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time. Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared. The International Bureau of the Commission is proposing to (1) vacate the Conditional Waiver Order, and (2) suspend indefinitely LightSquared’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority to an extent consistent with the NTIA letter. A Public Notice seeking comment on NTIA’s conclusions and on these proposals will be released tomorrow.

107 comments .. click to read

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Yo Soy Col. "Bat" Guano
Philly burbs

3 recommendations

reply to SxualChkL8

Re: Good riddance

A better analogy would be:

Lightsquared bought a piece of property in a quite residential district. Even though property is available in much more expensive commercial districts, Lighsquared thinks they have the local politicians in their back pocket, so they open a noisy night club in the middle of the sleepy part of town thinking their variance is in the "bag".

The club opens on a "trial" basis and things are ugly. Pounding music until 3 AM, people puking in the street, beer cans everywhere. The residents realize the "Cluster Frank" this is, and eventually make a big enough stink that the local politicians have no choice but to shut the club down.

By the reasoning of the folks here who support Lightsquared's use of their spectrum outside it's original allocation, the families who live around the noisy night club should be forced to live with the noise, traffic, and irritation. Why not? They could just better insulate their homes and draw their shades. After all, the night club is making money. Even though there is a night club district on the other side of town with plenty of open ground where the club could operate without disturbing the local residents.

Problem is, the open ground in the night club district is pricey. VERY pricey.

So, Lightsquared has 2 choices. Sell their land, or build a house and take a nap.
Petty people are disproportionally corrupted by petty power


Canyon Country, CA

2 recommendations

reply to WeatherPilot


Lightsquared bought a company with a satellite phone business plan. The FCC never sold them spectrum directly. Lightsquared said they had a better plan for the spectrum and the FCC said they'd get a waiver on condition that they didn't interfere.

Any sixth grader who understands how deciBels work could have done the necessary math in under 15 minutes and would have determined that there would be unacceptable blanketing interference for 100s of square miles around a 20KW EIRP base transmitter only 20 megaHertz away in the spectrum. (Filtering is more easily understood in terms of octaves. Practical bandstop/bandpass filters are maybe 1/10th of an octave wide. 20/1550 is a tiny fraction of an octave and impossible to filter in any practical manner).

This is a lesson in the arrogance of fat cats who think lawyers can fix that which money won't buy. They thought their "connections" at the top would get them enough deference to skate around the interference. They are obviously disconnected from reality.

Last week the FAA bill passed. It includes provisions that GPS takes a more active role in aircraft operations, including landings. That was Lightsquared's final nail.


Waterford, MI

4 recommendations

reply to Smokey

Re: Good riddance

Smokey, neither you nor "John McClane" apparently understand How Radio Works. (Hint: Regurgitating LightSquared's wildly inaccurate assertions as to How Radio Works does not constitute "Understanding How Radio Works.") Nor, apparently, do either of you understand how frequency allocation/planning works, either. (Hint: Whining about the alleged "unfairness" of frequency allocation/planning, just because it doesn't work to ones advantage, does not constitute "understanding.")

I, on the other hand, having been in radio for over 40 years, including terrestrial and satellite microwave communications, do understand How Radio Works. Having held both FCC Advance Class Amateur and FCC Commercial licenses, I also understand how frequency allocation/planning work.

LightSquared's plans were a massive Fail from the get-go. I knew it. Anybody that knew the least bit of How Radio Works knew it. I'm certain FCC's engineers knew it, and FCC granted the conditional waiver only under political pressure from above. (Research "Barack Obama" and "LightSquared" to get an idea where that might've come from.)

Boston, MA

5 recommendations

reply to ArrayList
Do you realize how weak a GPS signal is at the receiver? There is always crosstalk between neighboring frequencies. When the neighboring frequency's signal is several orders of magnitude more powerful on account of its proximity (remember that effective power is inversely proportional to the square of the distance), it will drown out other signals, even if they're not on the exact same band. GPS cannot have terrestrial signals around it, and that's not the fault of GPS.