LightSquared 4G service stalled by federal GPS interference concerns

Concerns about potential GPS interference continue to haunt LightSquared Wireless, the Wall Street Journal reported today. In the latest news, the Defense Department and federal transportation officials have expressed concerns that LightSquared mobile broadband service, which operates on frequencies originally intended for satellite phones, could potentially interfere with military GPS devices, because LightSquared is proposing to operate on spectrum frequencies very close to those used by GPS services.


Concerns about potential GPS interference continue to haunt LightSquared Wireless, the Wall Street Journal reported today. In the latest news, the Defense Department and federal transportation officials have expressed concerns that LightSquared mobile broadband service, which operates on frequencies originally intended for satellite phones, could potentially interfere with military GPS devices, because LightSquared is proposing to operate on spectrum frequencies very close to those used by GPS services.

The FCC in January approved a waiver, which dropped a requirement that all mobile phones using LightSquared airwaves have to support satellite calls. LightSquared requested the waiver in November to modify conditions around its current wireless spectrum licenses in order to offer terrestrial wireless broadband services.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Deputy Defense Department Secretary William J. Lynn and Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari said in a letter to the FCC on March 25 that “they haven’t been sufficiently included in the FCC’s review of LightSquared’s GPS interference issues.” The departments are asking for “a comprehensive study of all the potential interference to GPS.”

Last week, LightSquared announced deals with Leap Wireless International, Inc., a provider of wireless communications services, and with Best Buy, Co. for 4G roaming.

Doug Hutcheson, Leap’s President and CEO, said last week, “We intend to deploy our own LTE networks beginning this year to complement the existing nationwide 3G services we currently offer to customers. This new roaming arrangement will allow us to offer customers an even-greater 4G service area as LightSquared expands its own network. We believe that the broad coverage resulting from this business agreement will enhance our ability to offer compelling products and services and allow us to strengthen our retail relationships and distribution capabilities. It will also give us flexibility to access additional 4G capacity where needed as data-centric devices become more popular and require more and more bandwidth.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, an FCC spokesman said that LightSquared will be barred from moving forward with service until potential interference issues have been resolved.