LightSquared trumpets GPS interference test results, but doubts remain

Wholesale LTE provider LightSquared said GPS interference test results showed that high-precision GPS receivers from three GPS device makers are compatible with LightSquared's L-band spectrum. LightSquared pressed regulators to approve the commercial operation of its network, but doubts remain from some in the GPS community that the issue is resolved.

LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja held a press conference Wednesday to trumpet the test results, conducted by an Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) lab, and said they demonstrate that LightSquared is making progress on the interference issue. Alcatel-Lucent inked a deal in 2009 to develop satellite base station subsystems (SBSS) for the company that was then known as SkyTerra, which became LightSquared after hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners acquired it in 2010. 

LightSquared tested GPS interference solutions developed by three private companies--Javad GNSS, PCTel and Partron. LightSquared also said that three additional top-tier, high-precision GPS manufacturers--which are all members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, a group opposed to LightSquared's plans--have also developed solutions that have been tested at the lab.

The FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration are still conducting their own tests of LightSquared's network for potential GPS interference concerns and have not indicated when they will make a decision on approving LightSquared's network. LightSquared executives have said they need more clarity from regulators to move ahead with funding, but that has not stopped LightSquared from continuing to sign up wholesale customers.

Meanwhile, the Coalition to Save Our GPS issued a statement saying that the LightSquared tests are "simply one input into an overall analysis of the effect of LightSquared's planned operations on critical GPS uses."

"The results of the NTIA-supervised tests of consumer and general navigation devices are expected to be available in mid-December, followed by further government-sponsored testing of high-precision GPS equipment next year," Jim Kirkland, vice president and general counsel of Trimble, a founding member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, said in the statement. "In addition, there are ongoing technical discussions between LightSquared and the FAA regarding impacts on aviation safety which remain unresolved. Once all of this testing and analysis has been completed, we will have a much more complete picture of the impacts of LightSquared's revised proposals on GPS."

For more:
- see this LightSquared release
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this GPS Coalition release

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