LightSquared agrees to solve GPS interference issues

In a letter to the FCC, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja promised to work with the commission to ensure that the company's proposed integrated satellite-terrestrial broadband network will not interfere with GPS satellites and other maritime and aeronautical emergency communications. Ahuja promised to not offer commercial service until the FCC is satisfied with LightSquared's resolution of the interference claims.

Ahuja's letter comes just days after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration told the FCC that federal agencies are worried about LightSquared's proposed LTE network interfering with GPS satellites and other emergency communications. In the letter, NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling said that a fully terrestrial network would require more base stations than a terrestrial/satellite combination network, thereby increasing the likelihood of interference.

Overcoming this obstacle is critical to LightSquared, which is backed by Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund. The company needs the FCC to issue a waiver allowing it to offer terrestrial-only services to customers. LightSquared initially agreed to build a wireless network with both satellite and terrestrial technology. The company has since said it needs the waiver so it can meet its deadlines by offering some devices without satellite technology.

LightSquared is conducting LTE trials in Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix, with commercial launches planned by the third quarter of this year. The company, which has access to 59 MHz of spectrum, has said its network will consist of around 40,000 cellular base stations covering 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015.

LightSquared inked a $7 billion contract with Nokia Siemens Networks in July to design and build the network, and analysts have speculated that NSN might provide LightSquared with vendor financing to defray the cost of building the network. However, analysts noted, LightSquared likely will need more money than that to meet its buildout timetable. In October, LightSquared inked new device deals with Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and other companies, but did not announce any specific devices. The company has yet to publicly name wholesale partners. 

For more:
- see this letter from LightSquared to the FCC (PDF)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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