LightSquared Petitions FCC to Confirm Company's Rights to GPS Spectrum - Inside GNSS

LightSquared Petitions FCC to Confirm Company’s Rights to GPS Spectrum

LightSquared today (December 21, 2011) asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to confirm the company’s right to use spectrum licensed to it and that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from LightSquared’s proposed wireless broadband network.

LightSquared today (December 21, 2011) asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to confirm the company’s right to use spectrum licensed to it and that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from LightSquared’s proposed wireless broadband network.

“The one inescapable conclusion from two rounds of independent testing is that the incompatibility problem is not caused by LightSquared’s network,” said Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy. “It is clear that GPS devices are purposefully designed to look into LightSquared’s licensed spectrum, and given this evidence, we believe decision-makers should consider LightSquared’s legal rights as the licensee.”

The company asserts that commercial GPS manufacturers are responsible for having designed and sold unlicensed devices that use spectrum licensed to LightSquared and its predecessor companies.

“(C)ommercial GPS receivers are not licensed, do not operate under any service rules, and thus are not entitled to any interference protection whatsoever,’’ LightSquared wrote in its petition to the agency. The petition repeats the company’s argument that the FCC itself has stated that the GPS industry has known for almost a decade that LightSquared was planning to to launch a nationwide broadband network using the Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) spectrum adjacent to that used by GPS and other GNSS systems.

However, the debate over the contested spectrum has to do with the FCC’s proposed waiver of limitations on construction of an all-terrestrial broadband system using a network of powerful transmitters that have been determined would cause interference to GPS receivers, not a satellite-based system. That proposal was based on a request submitted only about a year ago.

“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 Carlisle. “LightSquared has always recognized the critical importance of the GPS system, and we firmly believe that GPS devices can peacefully co-exist adjacent to our network.”

In response to LightSquared’s latetst move, Jim Kirkland, vice-president and general counsel of Trimble, a founding member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, said, “This latest filing simply recycles the litany of inaccurate and self-serving claims that LightSquared has made in its ongoing effort to deny its obligation to avoid harmful interference to millions of government and private GPS users.  The filing entirely ignores the critical points relevant to its proposal to change the use of the mobile satellite band."

Kirkland raised three points in rebuttal: First, LightSquared and its predecessors have always been prohibited from interfering with GPS. Second, prior FCC decisions did not authorize the operation of a nationwide terrestrial broadband network in any way shape or form, LightSquared’s "attempts to cherry pick irrelevant pieces of FCC decisions notwithstanding." Third, LightSquared never paid for full terrestrial rights to use its spectrum, and thus cannot now claim superior rights to exploit its spectrum to the detriment of other authorized spectrum uses such as GPS.

"Any ‘agreement’ by the commercial GPS industry to accommodate limited ancillary operations in LightSquared’s spectrum was made within this basic framework, and is not relevant to LightSquared’s current proposal," Kirkland concluded. "Given this basic framework, the suggestion that GPS manufacturers should have designed their equipment to accommodate a prohibited spectrum use is completely meritless."