Will You Need LightSquared's GPS Receiver?

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LightSquared, a start-up developed by hedge fund manager Philip Falcone, says its ground-based high-speed wireless network wouldn't interfere with high-precision GPS devices if GPS manufacturers built their receivers properly. According to LightSquared, Department of Defense standards for the operation of the GPS system are not being met by GPS manufacturers. The company says that GPS manufacturers should be building receivers that filter out interference like that created by LightSquared's national wireless network. And to prove the point that building such a device is possible, LightSquared has (at least temporarily) entered the GPS receiver manufacturing business and produced a product it says is up to the task.

LightSquared told reporters Wednesday that it has partnered with an unnamed leader in GPS technology to create a proof-of-concept product that is unfazed by interference from LightSquared's frequency band. The company had originally intended to make use of a spectrum close to that of GPS but found that interference problems would be encountered. In June, it shifted the network to frequencies farther from the GPS band. However, it was found that high-precision GPS devices could still be compromised. The company says that the receiver it has built uses current technology that can be adapted to other devices and put into production within months. LightSquared says production of that unit shows that the interference problem is surmountable. Whether they propose to now sell their solution to affected parties like the Pentagon, federal agencies and other aviation interests -- and whether those interests are interested in adopting the solution at all -- remains to be seen.