AfterDawn: Tech news

LightSquared looks to sell local governments on wholesale 4G which might never come

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 07 Dec 2011 5:29

LightSquared looks to sell local governments on wholesale 4G which might never come The CEO of LightSquared will be meeting today with representatives of local governments in rural areas of the US to sell them on the benefits of their proposed wholesale 4G mobile network.
LightSquared's plan to offer 4G service using a frequency range originally allocated for satellite communications has been plagued by problems stemming from interference with high precision GPS systems which use nearby frequencies.

Their meeting with people like Charles Simmons, County Commissioner and Chairman of the Southern Lower Chattahoochee Council of Governments, Michael Evans of the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association, Shaun Golden, Sherriff of Monmouth County, NJ, Beatrice Snowden from The University of Kentucky Agricultural Cooperative Extension Services, and Maine State Representative Diane Russell appears to be an attempt to put pressure on federal regulators to approve the delayed launch of their mobile network.

They are being assisted in these efforts by two former US Senators and a former governor of Pennsylvania. According to a company press release, topics of discussion will include, "preliminary testing results from an independent laboratory that shows LightSquared's network is compatible with high precision GPS devices."

While that testing may be a useful first step, ultimately it is up to National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) officials to sign off on LightSquared's latest solutions to the GPS interference issues. Until the NTIA approves their plans, FCC approval of the new mobile network remains in limbo.

LightSquared has announced several solutions for the problems identified earlier this year in NTIA testing, but there are still significant implementation questions. Chief among these is how the retrofitting of existing GPS equipment, a requirement for any of their proposals, would be performed.

And more importantly, who will pay for it? LightSquared has pledged to foot the bill for retrofitting equipment owned by the federal government, despite not having any way of knowing for sure how much that will cost. But the problem extends to GPS receivers used extensively in the private sector as well.

Meanwhile, legislators appear to be looking to alternate solutions for freeing up spectrum outside the satellite range to use for increased mobile broadband deployment. While the new proposals could still be of use for LightSquared, it seems unlikely they will have any effect for at least another year, and more likely it will take much longer than that.

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