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GPS interference tests "unfair" claims LightSquared

Posted: , posted by Alan F.

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GPS interference tests
There is a lot of money at stake with LightSquared's wholesale mobile network. Besides high priced contracts with Sprint and other potential customers, many vulture investors are investing big bucks hoping to have a say in the restructuring of the company if it goes bankrupt. At the heart of the matter is the interference to GPS systems that the government claims comes from LightSquared's technology. The problem is that traffic on LightSquarted's network would bleed into the GPS system.

Tests done in 2010 by the Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing National Executive Committee forced LightSquared to move the frequency it uses to one as far away as possible from any neighboring GPS signals, but re-tests came to the same conclusion. LightSquared said it never received the results of that test and didn't know exactly what needed to be fixed. The company has released some correspondence between it and the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which had conducted the tests. The e-mails between a LightSquared executive and the Air Force reveal the former's complaint that the tests were done outside of parameters agreed to by the company.

Part of the e-mail from the wholesale network supplier read, "Specifically addressing the conducted testing that is underway at SPAWAR, we object to this phase as it is also outside of the process defined by NTIA. This element of Space Command’s test program was developed by it alone, without LightSquared even being provided a copy of this part of the test plan." As we said, the government originally refused to supply LightSquared with a copy of the test results or the key codes that would allow LightSquared to match a particular device with a particular test result. The company says it was more than a coincidence that the military delayed notifying the GPS manufacturers of their request for the key codes. This delay on the part of the Air Force Space Command meant that the previously agreed upon 14 day waiting period between the request of a key code and its release ended exactly on Christmas Day when the entire government was shut down for two days.

While LightSquared eventually did get to see the tests, they cannot be shown to anyone else including the media or third-party engineers. No one knows which side is right. Those who view the results must sign a non-disclosure with severe penalties for violating them. Which begs the question, what is being hidden here? Is there a reason why LightSquared has continued to fail the test even though it has claimed to have moved the frequency that it uses? LightSquared says that there is a conflict of interest with the Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing National Executive Committee, and that the government tests are unfair, but there needs to be an end to this process one way or the other. This has been going on too long with too much money already tied up.

Probably the fairest thing that can happen would be for the U.S. and LightSquared to release to the public all documents relating to the testing that are not confidential. Give LightSquared's engineers one last chance to solve the interference problem using the data that they have. Time is of the essence as Sprint is giving the company just until next month to get everything solved. Billions of dollars are on the line here as well as the possible additional network capacity for some carriers.

source: eWeek

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