Defense bill stacks deck against LightSquared

LightSquared may be breathing a bit easier after getting a 30-day extension from Sprint on the deadline to meet the conditions of its LTE partnership with the mobile carrier giant, but eWeek reports that the controversial defense bill signed into law by President Obama just last week may further stack the deck against LightSquared.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, signed by President Obama on New Year's Eve, is drawing much more attention for its support of indefinite detainment of terror suspects, but it also includes language that applies to the LightSquared situation.

As eWeek explains, a portion of the Space Activities section of the bill indicates that the Federal Communications Commission can't allow commercial terrestrial operations that interfere with the military use of GPS, unless the FCC can prove to Congress that any concerns have been resolved. If interference is found, as it has been in initial tests involving LightSquared's spectrum-though these tests didn't involve military-related satellite receivers--the Secretary of Defense must get involved to assess the interference and report back to Congress on how it will eliminated.

At a time when the industry appears increasingly worried about its limited spectrum holdings, it's starting to seem like LightSquared's L-band spectrum doesn't have all that much value--or at least may not be worth the additional trouble. Maybe that's what Sprint is thinking, too.

Suddenly, 30 days doesn't seem all that long of an extension, given what LightSquared needs to overcome, and not just at the FCC. It seems unlikely that Sprint was aware of the NDAA language before it let LightSquared have more time, not that waiting another 30 days really affects its LTE plans.

For more:
- check out the eWeek story

Related articles:
Sprint gave LightSquared an extension just days ago
Initial tests found LightSquared interfered with GPS