LightSquared counters leaked GPS interference tests, calls for government probe

Wholesale LTE provider LightSquared slammed leaked government tests showing that its proposed terrestrial network would interfere with up to 75 percent of GPS receivers, claiming they were selectively leaked to damage the company. Despite the leak, LightSquared executives said they remain confident they will receive regulatory approval early next year to launch their network.

"The information leaked on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, was preliminary, incomplete and did not represent the full findings from the test results," LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said in a letter to officials at the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation. He asked the departments to "refer this matter for an immediate investigation to determine the circumstances of this leak."

Nevertheless, LightSquared executives expressed renewed optimism that they will get regulatory approval from the FCC. "The tide is on our side completely in terms of getting through this process," Curtis Lu, LightSquared's general counsel, said on a conference call with reporters on Monday, according to IDG News Service.

LightSquared thinks the FCC will be able to rule definitively on the matter in the first quarter and will rule in favor of LightSquared, said Martin Harriman, LightSquared's executive vice president of ecosystem development and satellite business. LightSquared has said it could commercially launch service nine months after it receives regulatory approval.

According to the leaked data, reported by Bloomberg News, results from testing conducted between Oct. 31 and Nov. 4 revealed that "millions of fielded GPS units are not compatible" with LightSquared's planned nationwide service. The laboratory testing was performed for the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Systems Engineering Forum, an executive branch body that helps advise policy makers on issues around GPS.

"LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to a majority of GPS receivers tested," according to the draft prepared for a meeting next week of U.S. officials reviewing the LightSquared proposal. "No additional testing is required to confirm harmful interference exists."

LightSquared executives said the Bloomberg report was based on selective data, and that the tests reflected power levels 32 times higher than LightSquared actually plans to use. 

The testing was requested by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. "Our analysis is still under way and we are examining the full range of scenarios," NTIA spokeswoman Moira Vahey told Bloomberg. "The conclusions to be drawn from the test data will vary depending on factors such as LightSquared's power levels and other technical variables." Official results from the testing are not expected to be released for several more weeks, according to Bloomberg

For more:
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Light Reading article

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