LightSquared says it will take legal action if the FCC rejects its plan to build a nationwide wireless broadband system in the U.S. that the GPS industry and Department of Defense says will interfere with GPS signals. In its most aggressive move so far, LightSquared wrote a letter (PDF) to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reiterating the company’s position that the faulty design and performance of the majority of GPS receivers is responsible for the interference detected in a series of tests earlier this year. LightSquared then called a news conference to throw down the legal gauntlet. “If it is impossible to get a decision on this that allows us to go forward, I think our way forward is pretty clear, that we then have to insist on our legal rights,” LightSquared VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs Jeff Carlisle is quoted by ExecutiveGov as telling reporters. “If you have to be the bad guy, and go out and start … insisting on your property line, well, then that’s what we’ll do.” The FCC has ordered more testing and the results are due Nov. 30.
As we reported in June, Genachowski assured Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the FCC “will not permit LightSquared to provide commercial service until it is clear potential GPS interference concerns have been resolved.” In its most recent letter to Genachowski, LightSquared makes it clear it expects the GPS industry to modify its equipment to ensure it doesn’t allow signals from outside the frequency ranges assigned to GPS to interfere with their operation. There are about 500 million GPS-reliant devices in use in the U.S. LightSquared has admitted that a small percentage of them, mostly high-performance measuring and timing devices, are legitimately interfered with by its signals and says it hired an engineer to design a cheap and simple fix for those units.