Trouble for LightSquared and Sprint - The UpStream

Trouble for LightSquared and Sprint

posted Saturday Feb 18, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Trouble for LightSquared and Sprint

After an interesting battle with the FCC, LightSquared, and subsequently Sprint, who had announced a plan to partner with LightSquared for 4G LTE, the company has been dealt a crippling blow. The FCC has suspended a waiver granted to them in 2010, that would allow them to build-out their LTE network. The waiver was revoked over concerns that the spectrum used by LightSquared would be dangerously close to navigational GPS, and that it could affect up to 75% of GPS signals.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in a letter,

Based on NTIA's independent evaluation of the testing and analysis performed over the last several months, we conclude that LightSquared's proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services and that there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time.

What does LightSquared have to say about all of this? Hit the break.

The company fired back with a press release, stating,

After years of receiving regulatory approvals, the FCC approved LightSquared to build its ground network in 2005. In 2010, the FCC amended that plan, requiring LightSquared to build a national broadband network that reached 260 million Americans. At the government's mandate, LightSquared began investing billions of dollars in America's infrastructure - without asking for any money from the American taxpayer. Yesterday, after LightSquared had already spent nearly $4 billion, the FCC changed its mind. There can be no more devastating blow to private industry and confidence in the consistency of the FCC's decision-making process.

Definitely a strong move, taking on the FCC directly in the public. LightSquared will definitely be continuing to fight this decision, not only because it is patently ridiculous, but because the FCC had originally tasked the company with building this network, at their own cost. When an unregulated federal agency starts messing with the private sector and its money, it never ends quietly. Expect to be hearing about this one loudly for a while.

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