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LightSquared Continues Generating Commission Controversy

RESTON, VA.: LightSquared is proceeding as planned even as its proposed network continues generating dispute. The company said today it has transitioned 50,000 public safety and enterprise customers to its new SkyTerra 1 satellite. LightSquared said the transition is a “major step” toward the launch of it’s wholesale 4G-LTE wireless broadband-and-satellite network.

The privately funded company is in a race to deploy its network--unique in its combination of terrestrial and satellite technologies. It is meeting resistance because network modeling demonstrated interference with global positioning systems. The Federal Communications Commission docket on the proposed network has more than 2,700 comments on file, many from individual GPS users objecting to its deployment even with modifications.

“Please do not allow LightSqured to mess up the guidance systems I have installed on my tractor,” wrote Tom Kalkowski. “I have spent over $50,000 for this system.”

Randy Gibson said he works for a local law enforcement crime lab.

“When we are called to a crime scene, we use GPS receiver to get to the scene by the most expeditious route,” he wrote. “Evidence is fragile, and sometimes, minutes count. A degraded GPS signal will increase our response time and make us less effective in keeping our citizens safe. Please do not allow this to happen.”

There are similar objections from land surveyors, pilots, oilfield workers, scientists and others. Others, however, support it. Paul Anderson with the Douglas County, Minn. Commission said lack of wireless broadband in rural areas is a barrier to economic development.

“We need jobs and economic growth. Ourability to grow jobs depends upon reliable communications and I urge the commission to approved LightSquared’s pending application without delay,” he wrote.

Ross Gallagher, a former commissioner with Washington’s Mason County, urged the commission to allow LightSquared to go forward.

The GPS community has had eight years to prepare for this day. The American people should not need to wait further--and certainly not indefinitely--to accommodate the GPS industry’s procrastination,” he wrote, referring to the inability of GPS receivers to reject interference.

LightSquared agreed to mitigate interference by launching at reduced power at lower frequencies. It more recently secured a shared-services deal with Sprint that will allow it to launch on that carrier’s terrestrial network, saving it billions of dollars in upfront infrastructure investment. That agreement is subject to FCC approval.
~ Deborah D. McAdams