LightSquared/GPS Battle Continues

LightSquared gained some support in filings in response to the FCC's request for comments on LightSquared's request for declaratory ruling regarding the FCC's requirement that it protect GPS receivers from interference. LightSquared asked the FCC to confirm that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from LightSquared's network since they are not licensed users.

As of midnight EST Wednesday, 13 comments and Notices of Exparte (disclosure of meetings with FCC staff or management regarding this Docket) had been filed since the LightSquared response appeared on Jan. 30, 2012 in FCC Docket 10-142. As reported last week, the first two comments were from individuals saying GPS had to be protected.

All of the comments, with one exception, were from people opposed to LightSquared's request. The supporting comment was from SI Wireless, LLC, who stated, "SIW expects that LightSquared's business approach will promote competition significantly by enhancing the ability of regional wireless service providers such as SIW to offer wireless services nationwide as consumers now demand of their carriers."

The exparte notices were from telecommunications companies supporting LightSquared's request. For example, Exicon Ltd. stated in its filing "By affirming LightSquared's rights as described in the Petition, the Commission would facilitate our ability to deliver the tangible benefits of more robust competition to consumers in the form of higher quality service, lower rates, and expanded voice and broadband service options."

Tuesday, LightSquared issued a press release saying that it had sent a letter to the FCC asking that body "to develop receiver reliability standards for unlicensed GPS devices to ensure they perform reliably and take into account licensed users in nearby bands."

The LightSquared document continued:

"If sensible standards were in place, the GPS industry would not be facing the current interference problems and consumers would benefit from a more efficient use of spectrum. Furthermore, the way would be clear for LightSquared to launch its new nationwide wireless broadband network funded by a $14 billion private investment in the nation's broadband infrastructure."

LightSquared critic Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) called a House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee hearing to review "issues associated with protecting and improving our nation's aviation satellite-based global positioning system infrastructure."

National Journal reporter Josh Smith covered it in his article Aviation, GPS Representative Warn of LightSquared's 'Catastrophic' Plans. The hearing included GPS manufacturers and government users.

Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari said that, "LightSquared's proposal would require constant, individual monitoring and adjustments to over 40,000 broadcasting sites nationwide, to ensure that they could be, and would remain, consistent with air safety requirements. This is simply not practical."

LightSquared responded, saying that "Despite repeated requests, we were told there was no need to testify because LightSquared was not the subject of the hearing. It's outrageous that a congressional hearing set up to examine factual issues was only focused on one side of the story--a side of the story supported by commercial GPS makers who designed faulty devices that depend on using spectrum licensed to LightSquared."

There is still plenty of time to file comments in this proceeding. The comment deadline is Feb. 27, 2012 with reply comments due by March 13, 2012. See the Electronic Comment Filing System Web page for details on filing comments. The Docket Number is 10-142.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.