A desperate LightSquared seeks regulatory changes to GPS issues

After previously stating that interference test reports showing its technology negatively affected global positioning satellite (GPS) systems were rigged by GPS insiders, LightSquared is now asking the FCC to institute new standards for GPS equipment.

LightSquared contends that current GPS devices on the market are poorly designed and purposefully encroach on its licensed spectrum. The company wants the Commission to develop standards for unlicensed GPS devices to ensure they receive signals reliably and don't interfere with licensed users in nearby bands.

While LightSquared’s request is specifically focused on commercial GPS receivers designed to receive signals in the 1559-1610 MHz band, company officials said that receiver reliability standards would create a level playing field across the entire U.S. spectrum.

LightSquared said that two rounds of testing by independent and government entities have confirmed that the interference experienced by the commercial GPS receivers is the result of an industry decision to design and sell poorly filtered devices that purposefully depend on spectrum licensed to LightSquared for accuracy. If sensible standards were in place, the company said, the GPS industry would not be facing the interference problems.

While the FCC has in the past depended on market forces to regulate receiver performance, in this case such forces have failed. The result, LightSquared said, is that a relatively small number of users are standing in the way of a $14 billion private investment in a nationwide wireless broadband service that would provide enhanced competition for more than 260 million Americans.

In a separate petition to the FCC in December, LightSquared asked the commission to confirm the company’s right to use its licensed spectrum and confirm that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from LightSquared’s network since they are not licensed users.

Also, this week, LightSquared complained that it was not allowed to testify at a House hearing on GPS issues. “LightSquared was denied a seat at the witness table today before the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,” the company said in a statement. “We are dismayed but not surprised to hear today that this hearing was little more than a one-sided trial of LightSquared in absentia.”