LightSquared, the troubled satphone venture, said it expects guidance from the FCC by year’s end on its proposed terrestrial wireless network. The FCC may request changes, such as deploying the network in stages or avoiding the placement of antennas in certain locations, according to Michael Montemarano, LightSquared’s chief financial officer.
Lightsquared & Sprint announced a sharing agreement this July. Montemarano said the company’s deal with Sprint Nextel was to have a deployable 5×5 MHz block of spectrum, which was supposed to be met in September, but was deferred to December because of the interference issue. “Now we have to have a 10×10 MHz [block] by year-end or we go back to the table with Sprint,” he said.
LightSquared has proposed a nationwide wireless broadband network with a backbone of more than 30,000 cell towers adjacent to GPS frequencies in the “L band” at 1.6 GHz. Given a conditional waiver to go ahead by the FCC this January, the Virginia company has been trying to work out interference issues with a prickly GPS community.
Federal Agencies say LightSquared will cause unacceptable safety, environmental, and economic consequences.
LightSquared says partner Javad GNSS has developed a device that claims to solve the interference issue. The company has 25 pre-production units ready for testing. Additionally, Lightsquared said that another company is today announcing a $6 filter that can be used with a precision GPS devices to mitigate any interference.
“We are now demonstrating that the issue can be solved quickly and at a low cost,” said LightSquared CMO Frank Boulben
Solving the interference problem could cost the commercial GPS industry as much as $400 million. The GPS industry argues that Lightsquared’s signal will overwhelm their weak GPS signals in adjacent spectrum.
Lightsquared doesn’t think it should pay to fix the problem. Lightsquared says the high precision signal is outside the GPS band and intrudes into Lightsquared’s spectrum. Last week in a conference call, company officials said they would pursue legal action if they had to.
Harbinger initially planned to have 23 MHz available from Lightsquared – 8 MHz of 1.4 GHz terrestrial spectrum, 5 MHz of 1.6 GHz terrestrial spectrum and 10 MHz of MSS L-Band spectrum (ATC waiver). By 2013, they hoped to add an additional 30MHz available through cooperation with Inmarsat and additional ATC waivers in the L-Band. Now the plan is to use the Inmarsat spectrum first. But that may be easier said than done.
LightSquared said that it has enough cash to operate through the first quarter of 2012 but it currently is unable to raise more money because of uncertainty from the FCC regarding the company’s interference problem with high-precision GPS receivers, reports Fierce Wireless.
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