LightSquared Files FCC Petition

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LightSquared has thrown down a potentially tricky legal gauntlet and challenged the Federal Communications Commission to clarify its right to use the sliver of radio spectrum it owns for a ground-based broadband network. In a petition for declaratory ruling (PDF) filed Tuesday, the upstart broadband service wholesaler repeats its claim that the manufacturers of GPS devices that are affected by the broadband signals are to blame for the interference. "It recently has become apparent that the commercial GPS industry has manufactured, and sold to unsuspecting consumers, unlicensed and poorly designed GPS receivers that 'listen' for radio signals both in the 'RNSS' frequency band in which the U.S. GPS system is intended to operate, as well as across the adjacent 'MSS' frequency band that is not intended for GPS use, and in which LightSquared is licensed," the petition says. "The commercial GPS industry claims, without justification, that these GPS receivers somehow are entitled to 'protection' from the LightSquared authorized operations ...." LightSquared is also asking that the manufacturers of GPS equipment be kept out of any deliberations on the future of LightSquared's applications because, according to LightSquared, the GPS makers lack the legal standing to have their comments heard. The GPS industry says the filing is a rerun of previous LightSquared rhetoric that selectively cites previous FCC rulings and ignores its own positions on the interference issues.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Coalition to Save Our GPS said LightSquared has agreed to not to interfere with GPS. "In its January 2011 order, the Commission made clear that LightSquared would not be permitted to commence operations until it had demonstrated that it would not interfere with GPS," said coalition spokesman Jim Kirkland. "LightSquared did not challenge this condition at the time, and has to live up to it. There is overwhelming technical evidence—the most recent of which was released by the Government just last week--that this condition has not been satisfied." The petition is the latest in a series of aggressive moves by LightSquared, which says it has spent billions to get its high-speed wireless broadband system off the ground. If approved as written, the LightSquared petition would put the entire legal onus for coexistence on the GPS industry. However, LightSquared insists it's still willing to help solve the interference problems. "While we ask the FCC today to confirm our legal rights, LightSquared remains fully committed to cooperate with all parties -– the GPS industry, GPS users, and the federal government -– to ensure that LightSquared's network is deployed in a way that is compatible with GPS users," said LightSquared spokesman Jeff Carlisle. "LightSquared has always recognized the critical importance of the GPS system, and we firmly believe that GPS devices can peacefully coexist adjacent to our network."