Report: LightSquared admits GPS interference but disagrees on solution

A final report that LightSquared and a GPS industry group will deliver today to the FCC will show that LightSquared's proposed terrestrial network for wholesale LTE will cause interference with GPS receivers, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said the FCC report will show that while the two sides agree there is interference, they remain at odds over whether there is a technical fix to the solution. Some of the report's conclusion were foreshadowed last week at a meeting of a government GPS panel, where government agencies reported that tests showed LightSquared's network caused interference with GPS receivers, especially in upper portion of spectrum.

The FCC has not yet released the report, which is from a technical working group LightSquared and the United States Global Positioning System Industry Council formed in late February. FCC representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

At issue is a waiver the FCC granted LightSquared in January to allow LightSquared to provide terrestrial-only service in its L-band spectrum, which had previously been allocated mainly for satellite use. The spectrum sits adjacent to frequencies used by GPS receivers and the GPS community is concerned that the powerful signal produced by LightSquared's base stations will knock out GPS.

Many in the GPS industry say they support expanded mobile broadband access, but want LightSquared to move its service to different spectrum. LightSquared executives have said they are committed to finding a solution that will work for both the company and GPS users; one possible solution LightSquared executives have proposed is putting filters on the company's infrastructure to limit interference.  

"To the extent that the GPS manufacturers are saying that there's no possible way that this can be fixed, they're wrong," Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared's executive vice president of regulatory affairs, told the Journal. "We believe this points the way to mitigation solutions that will work for the GPS manufacturers and for us to move forward with our network."

Meanwhile, General Motors asked the FCC in a filing Tuesday to conduct more tests on the network after initial tests showed the network interfered with the GPS features of GM's OnStar service.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article

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