LightSquared Offers Plans To Limit GPS Interference

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Reston, Va. -

LightSquared

is offering to limit the initial operation of its 4G LTE network to the lower part of its L-band spectrum and reduce base-station transmitter power by more than 50 percent to protect existing GPS devices from interference.

The changes would enable the carrier to "serve its growing customer base for the next several years" and use the additional time to work with government agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "to explore mitigation possibilities and operational alternatives that will allow LightSquared to continue to expand its business" by using more of its allocated spectrum, the company said. During this time, LightSquared said it would not use the upper portion of its 1525MHz to 1559MHz spectrum to launch its network as originally planned. The upper portion is closer to the GPS band.

"This is a solution which ensures that tens of millions of GPS users won't be affected by LightSquared's launch," contended LightSquared chairman/CEO Sanjiv Ahuja. "At the same time, this plan offers a clear path for LightSquared to move forward with the launch of a nationwide wireless network that will introduce world class broadband service to rural and underserved areas which still find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide.''

Tests run by LightSquared and GPS suppliers

found that "this lower block of frequencies is largely free of interference issues with the exception of a limited number of high-precision GPS receivers that are specifically designed to rely on LightSquared's spectrum," LightSquared said. Such devices are used in agriculture and other industries. The carrier will limit initial operations to that portion of the spectrum, and by reducing maximum authorized base-station transmitter power by more than 50 percent, "will provide additional protection to GPS," the startup carrier said.

 For its part, the

Coalition to Save Our GPS

last week said limited tests conducted in the lower portion of the spectrum produced evidence of "significant interference to a significant number of [high-precision] GPS receivers. Thos tests, however, did not take into account LightSquared's proposed reduction in base-station transmitting power.

 Suppliers of portable navigation devices [PNDs] had also opposed LightSquared's initial plan.

  LightSquared plans a satellite- and terrestrial-based 4G network to provide terrestrial- and satellite-based voice and data service on a wholesale basis to retailers, cable operators, and other companies that want to offer service under their own brand.

Best Buy has entered into an agreement with LightSquared to resell LightSquared's planned 4G LTE voice and data service under its own Best Buy Connect brand. And carrier Leap Wireless, which is building its own 4G LTE network, has entered into a roaming agreement with LightSquared to extend the areas in which its users can access 4G.

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