European official worries over LightSquared GPS interference

LightSquared's proposed wholesale LTE network poses a grave threat to European plans for GPS, a European Commission official told the FCC, dealing another blow to LightSquared's plans.

Heinz Zourek, head of the European Commission's industry department, said research carried out in Europe, including by the European Space Agency, shows that LightSquared's base stations have "considerable potential to cause harmful interference" to the country's Galileo GPS system, which will be operational by 2014 or 2015. Like GPS receivers, the Galileo system uses spectrum that is directly adjacent to the MSS L-band spectrum LightSquared owns, which could cause interference, Zourek wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The Galileo system covering the U.S., which will interoperate with GPS, will be threatened, he wrote.

Additionally, Zourek wrote that LightSquared's network could harm European aviation systems.   

An FCC spokesman declined to comment.

LightSquared submitted a modified network plan to the FCC June 30 that it argues will mitigate interference from the company's base stations on GPS receivers. The company initially intends to use the lower portion of its L-band spectrum holdings for its network, a design the company said shows less interference than the upper portion of the band. The GPS industry has heavily criticized the new plan as inadequate and untested.

The FCC is reviewing the new plan, and a decision about the waiver is not expected to be announced for weeks if not longer. However, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said he is so confident the FCC will approve the company's conditional waiver to allow its wholesale customers to provide terrestrial-only LTE service that he is not even planning for an alternative. "When you look at the testing and the technical data, there's no reason to believe that the decision should go against LightSquared," Ahuja told CNET.

For more:
- see this letter (PDF)
- see this Bloomberg article

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