LightSquared Says It Can Fix GPS Interference

LightSquared Says It Can Fix GPS Interference

LightSquared says it has engineered a network solution to interference concerns with GPS systems, as debate continue over the company’s expansion plans.

The Reston, Va.-based company’s CEO Sanjib Ahuja said the fix should alleviate complaints that its signals cripple military, aviation, weather and commercial GPS signals.

Ahuja and Jeffrey Carlisle, the company’s executive vice president of regulatory affairs and public policy, did not say exactly what the fix will involve, but Carlisle added it designed prototype equipment to resolve the issue.

The company plans to spend $14 billion over the next eight years to build a terrestrial wireless network, and will pay $9 billion to Sprint for use of its cell phone tower system. LightSquared then plans to wholesale the 4G LTE service to Sprint, Best Buy and other companies.

However, the Federal Communications Commission put LightSquared’s plans on hold while tests continue about the GPS issues, and said Tuesday even more tests should be held before a decision is reached.

LightSquared may come up with a solution to the interference issue, but the FCC will likely order even more tests on it before approving the company’s service extension plans, delaying LightSquared’s launch even further.

Even with the solution, LightSquared’s battle is far from over. Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will testify today to the House Armed Services subcommittee on the GPS issues. The subcommittee will also hear from defense officials on LightSquared signals’ possible impact on military GPS navigation systems.

LightSquared’s delays arise from political reasons, not because of real engineering problems, Ahuja said. He noted his company has worked with the government and will be able to solve all the technical issues in time to meet a November 30 deadline for completing tests. Ahuja also blames the interference controversy on existing GPS receivers, which he claims should have been better designed to eliminate interference.

Ahjua’s claims about a solution would give the company some time to prove it can operate side-by-side with existing GPS systems. However, if it cannot prove the signals don’t interfere with GPS systems, the FCC may ban LightSquared’s expansion plans altogether.

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