Lightsquared: Plan B from Outer Space?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Colonel Tom Edwards: This is the most fantastic story I’ve ever heard.
Jeff Trent: And every word of it’s true, too.
Colonel Tom Edwards: That’s the fantastic part of it.
Plan 9 from Outer Space

The continuing drama that is LightSquared never seems to stop. The satphone company says it’s “on track” to deploy its first wholesale 4G markets next year. Lightsquared is promoting an LTE terrestrial system using their 1.6 GHz frequencies, re-broadcast on some 40,000 terrestrial cell towers.

But they still haven’t said who will provide the 40,000 terrestrial towers. Or how the system can avoid interference with GPS signals.

According to just about everyone in the GPS industry, the issue won’t go away. A Technical Working Group was formed from members of the GPS community, both industry and governmental. The group will determine whether Lightsquared’s terrestrial transmitters could affect the accuracy, coverage and continuous availability of GPS, reports Light Reading.

The first report from the 34-member group was submitted on March 1 (pdf), the second is due April 15, and the final report is due June 15.

LightSquared will be using part of the L-band downlink frequencies (1525-1559MHz), while GPS (and GLONASS) operate within the 1559-1610MHz band, explains satellite consultant Tim Farrar. LightSquared’s base stations will be fitted with filters which cut off the signal abruptly at the top of the L-band, so LightSquared’s signals don’t leak into the GPS band.

But most GPS devices don’t have those sharp filters, and can be overwhelmed by nearby LightSquared terrestrial transmissions in Lightsquared’s adjacent L-band frequencies.

The FCC allowed satphone companies like Lightsquared to re-broadcast their Mobile Satellite frequency on terrestrial towers.

The FCC explained in their ruling that the satellite phone industry suffered due to poor reception inside of cars or buildings. Terrestrial repeaters (ATC), it was thought, could deliver broadband to more people with better penetration and lower costs.

Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) operates in a similar manner to Satellite radio repeaters, which rebroadcast satellite radio on rooftop terrestrial towers for better reception.

Most recently, the FCC allowed Lightsquared to sell phones without a satellite connection — just using their terrestrial 1.6GHz signal.

It’s beginning to look like Nextel all over again. Perhaps TerreStar and ICO in the “S-Band” will be Plan B for Phil.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Harbinger: 59MHz or What?. Time Warner Cable + Lightstream?, Lightsquared Signs Cricket Wireless, Another Rumor: Lightsquared + Sprint?, Lightsquared + Sprint?, Charlie’s Big Play, LTE Spectrum: It’s War, Lightsquared: What GPS Interference?, Harbinger Sells Inmarsat Shares, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, T-Mobile: No Spectrum Deal…Yet, LightSquared: In Trouble?, Lightsquared Unfurled, MetroPCS Eyes TerreStar

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 12:38 pm .

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