LightSquared wants FCC to solicit comments on spectrum sharing proposal

LightSquared wants the FCC to start a formal comment proceeding on a proposal to share the 1675-1680 MHz band between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a commercial wireless network.

In its filing with the FCC, LightSquared included a report assessing the 1675-1680 MHz band and asked the commission to open a Public Notice to gather comments "in order to better understand the potential impact of commercial use of the 1675-1680 MHz band on entities who receive NOAA's data products and services."

LightSquared's report outlines the methods by which the band can be successfully shared between NOAA and a commercial wireless network while preserving NOAA's existing uses of the band and enabling the continued provision of data products and services to non-NOAA end users.

LightSquared said that NOAA raised concerns in June about the possible impact on non-NOAA users, and LightSquared began assessing the methods by which non-NOAA users access NOAA's data products and services, including through direct outreach to many non-NOAA users.

But LightSquared said its investigation into non-NOAA end users was limited in scope and while useful, the response it received from the exercise was incomplete. "Thus, we believe the topic would benefit from additional input," the company said.

A 2013-2014 study by Alion Science and Technology concerning the compatibility of commercial wireless operations with NOAA's uses of the 1675-1680 MHz band concluded that compatibility is achievable through the relocation of certain NOAA radiosondes and the establishment of defined protection and coordination zones.

LightSquared initially launched in 2010 with the goal of building a nationwide wireless LTE network that other companies could use in order to offer their own services to customers. The company signed up around 40 wholesale customers to the plan. However, the company entered bankruptcy protection in May 2012 after the FCC revoked its conditional license to operate because of unresolved concerns that its planned LTE-based network in the L-band would interfere with GPS receivers.

In late 2012, the FCC opened a public notice seeking comment on a proposal to modify the Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) authorization associated with LightSquared's L-Band licenses. The modification was intended to address concerns raised by the GPS industry and others and to allow LightSquared to proceed with deployment of its proposed broadband network. 

As of this past September, LightSquared reported making some progress on settlement talks with GPS firms Trimble and Deere, but Garmin and LightSquared remained at an impasse.

Earlier this year, the FCC agreed to pursue spectrum sharing techniques to create a new three-tiered commercial radio service spanning 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz. As part of that proceeding, the FCC was able to work with the Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to free up more spectrum, making coastal protection areas 77 percent smaller than previously contemplated to protect military users.  

Spectrum sharing is being pursued more aggressively than in the past, and it's created significant debate between the LTE and Wi-Fi communities, where some stakeholders hold business interests in both technologies. During the 3.5 GHz proceeding, commenters pointed to the introduction of LTE in unlicensed bands and the potential for it to interfere with Wi-Fi, and the commission ended up opening a separate public notice seeking comment on LAA and LTE-U technologies.

For more:
- see this FCC filing

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