LightSquared blocked by the FCC due to unavoidable GPS interference

LightSquared blocked by the FCC due to unavoidable GPS interference
The dark clouds that have been building up over LightSquared do not seem to be close to floating away. After a statement given by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the FCC is now set to revoke the conditional approval that it gave to LightSquared last year. There is “no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time”, said the NTIA referring to the harmful interference with GPS devices that the company's infrastructure is supposedly causing.

That said, the hopes for LightSquared's whlolesale LTE network launching in the near future have pretty much evaporated. And that is good news for those who have been opposing its launch, including many organizations that rely heavily on GPS communication: the military, aviation, construction and agriculture businesses, to name a few. On the other hand, the failure of LightSquared could lead to a break-up with Sprint. Back in 2011, both companies signed a 15-year pact, according to which, the carrier would be permitted to deliver LTE service to its customers via LightSquared's 4G LTE network. 

In its defense, LightSquared stated not long ago that the GPS interference tests were “unfair”, and that flaws in the way GPS operates were actually to blame. In particular, GPS instruments actually “listen into frequencies outside of their assigned spectrum band” – spectrum that has been licensed to LightSquared. Furthermore, Jeff Carlisle, who handles the company's regulatory affairs and public policy, wrote in LightSquared's blog that the GPS industry has become “too big to fail,” which is why it is now relying on government support to cover up its shortcomings.

Still, LightSquared remains committed to finding a workaround to the problem, although what exactly can be done remains unclear.



1. tigermcm

Posts: 861; Member since: Sep 02, 2009

sooooo what is Sprint going to do now? Hmmmm they should have saved their money rather than do WiMax and now this Apple contract

21. cellgeek82

Posts: 518; Member since: Dec 20, 2009

Sprint has always been backward. They always invest in technology nobody else wants. All carriers said they were adopting LTE and Sprint said they wanted WiMAX...why? Same goes with Nextel's iDEN network. That didn't survive either. Until Sprint learns the phrase "go big or go home" they'll always be behind the industry. The only thing they doing right is stubbornly holding on to cheaper prices and unlimited data.

2. dkpitman

Posts: 35; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

This is ridiculous. Sprint LTE delayed = delayed Galaxy Nexus = delayed ICS for Galaxy S.

18. dkpitman

Posts: 35; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

*Nexus S

3. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Merge with T-Mo? Alternatively, it is time to buy LTE spectrum and upgrade its towers....

4. paulyyd

Posts: 340; Member since: Jan 08, 2011

basically, sprint is f**ked

5. Carlitos

Posts: 673; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

So sprints "aggressive LTE rollout is being thrown down the pipe. And buying T-Mobile is not much of an option, because they are 2 different technologies and it would take even more money to convert either ones technology to the other. Putting sprint in a corner surrounded by knifes.

6. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Sprint is not exactly in an enviable position. Even the iPhone 5 is going to be moving to LTE. If they can't get moving to LTE, they are going to do a slow downward spiral that not even the iPhone can stop. A 3G-only network is so 2011. Although some would argue that Spint really is only a 2 1/2 G network, given their speed challenges.

7. dvancleave

Posts: 32; Member since: Jul 19, 2010

I totally agree! Sprint's whole "aggressive LTE rollout" was/is heavily dependent upon LightSquared. And now it looks like the FCC is about to put the nails in the coffin on that little duo. With the iPhone 5 expected to offer LTE support too, who would want to buy one on a network without LTE coverage? This will really hurt iPhone sales for Sprint. And they are still committed to the contract they signed with Apple to sell $20 billion worth of hardware over 4 years. Welcome to Sprint, "the Now (what) Network".

8. Ebeboi01

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

way to go sprint.... thats what we call aggressive LTE rollout... thats what we call the Sprint Network Vision... poor sprint customers stucked with a rotting 3g network and a half baked 4g wimax network...

9. tigermcm

Posts: 861; Member since: Sep 02, 2009

We had for 4G.....oh yeah some people with certain phones in a few states do have 4G. Honestly I don't call that 4G Sprint was the first to SAY they have 4G in my eyes we never did and still dont have 4G

13. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Sprint does have the fastest 4g in my market, my brother gets a consistent 25+Mbps down. I get 8-12 down on magenta, and Verizons lte is somewhere in the middle.

10. Fallout09

Posts: 421; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Have any of you guys read the details of Sprint's Network Vision? It involves decupling single mode towers to allow a single cell site to support multiple technologies in a faction of the foot print. This will Sprint more effectively overlap their signals in areas where they may have one only tower to support iDen and another miles away only support CDMA. IE better coverage for everybody in both areas! Also with these new cell sites, the technology allows them to quickly drop a card into the unit to quickly support LTE or whatever direction Telecom decides to go. I think plan is smart move for the company; however the only downside is MONEY for the build out. Lightsquare would have a source of income for Sprint by allowing them to use their existing 3G services and Sprint was going to piggy back on their 4G services. Now Sprint will have to tighten its belt and foot the bill of the site conversions in progress. Overall, I think Sprint got caught up in the iPhone hype and now are regretting on paying Apple all that money for their overpriced iDevices. I hope they can find a way out of this pickle. Having Sprint around is good for everybody.

11. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Great comment. Its a bummer light squared is back to square one,now its all on sprint.

12. dla0052

Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 31, 2012

Either way you look at it, I think its bad news for Sprint. They rushed with WiMax and that failed. I bought into the 4G hype assuming my city would have 4G from Clearwire and it never happened. That was 2 years ago! Now they are going to have problems with Light Squared, its sad because Verizon and AT&T have 4G service in my location and Sprint is still playing catch up. I am so happy my contract ends this year, I thought I would never say this but goodbye Sprint!

14. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

Sprint's not going anywhere. You doom and gloom sayers crack me up. Yes, if Lightsquared can't come up with a work around then Sprint will have to do it all themselves. I've been using. Get Sprint's WiMax since the EVO 4G first debuted and have had phenomenal speeds. Verizon's so called LTE network may be fast, but what good is speed if there's an outage for 15 days out of almost every month? At& t's network is pure CRAP. T-Mobiles HSPA+ is phenomenal though. I live in NYC and never have a problem with Sprint's or T-Mobile's networks. Verizon, however, has almost nonexistent data in parts of New Jersey Queens and the Bronx.

16. ECPirate37

Posts: 338; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

I also live in NYC and do not have any problems with Sprint's service. I was on at&t for 10 years before moving to Sprint and have never regretted the change. I pay a lot less than I did on at&t and my data speeds are faster. That's a win.

15. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

This just seems bogus. The FCC licensed THAT SPECTRUM to LightSquared, then decide they cant use it. Lightsquared presumably had to pay several hundreds of millions or even billions for that spectrum, then the FCC renigs on it. Seems like some lobbying done by AT&T and Verizon, I wouldnt be surprised.

17. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

Why would you even say it has anything to do with AT&T/Verizon? This is the GPS market against Lightsquared. GPS manufacturers are losing boat loads of money now because people don't need dedicated gps units anymore if they have a smartphone. I still use my Garmin if I need navigation just because it's leagues better than using a phone, but if anybody is trying to hinder Lightsquared... it's Garmin, Magellan, and Tom Tom.

19. corps1089

Posts: 492; Member since: Jan 20, 2010

The Government actully gave the spectrum to LightSquared for free for satelite use, then LightSquared applied for and received an exception to use the spectrum for terrestrial use [everyone had 1 year to object]. So they didn't have to actually buy the spectrum in auction like other carriers. DishNetwork is in the middle of doing the same thing now. But it is completely bogus that the FCC would seem to be shutting LightSquared down since it is clear that the problem with the GPS devices is based on their failure to filter out spectrum the GPS industry does not own It would be a crime to shut down LightSquared from using it's legally gained spectrum because the GPS industry is squatting on it. I don't care if the GPS industry is vital, get off the spectrum you do not own! Here's a solution, the GPS industry can buy out LightSquared's specturm for 60 Billion USD or whatever amount it would take for LightSquared to buy similar longwave spectrum for terrestrial use.

20. skymitch89

Posts: 1453; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

Now Sprint should change gears and go with Clear for LTE. I think that Sprint should've started with Clear mostly because Clear already has the FCC clearance and Sprint is a majority owner of Clear.

22. glf752

Posts: 14; Member since: Jan 05, 2012

So i guess no one remembers thats sprint told clear that they needs to raise money to bring up there LTE Network....and take it from someone who works on ATT and Sprints network currently...they will still have LTE they just need to find a new provider for it who is licensed to do so.....A side note if I was light squared its time to start putting people in court if your signal is leaking into my spectrum which i'm paying for, I would want money for every single devices thats doing it...point need to fight with uncle sam they will always find a way to win but you can't fight facts in court...the GPS corps are worried about losing money, i would make them lose it anyways.... PAE ME!!!!!!!

23. glf752

Posts: 14; Member since: Jan 05, 2012

@skymitch89: I agree but the more cost affect way was to let someone else do the work and you not have to worry about it....

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.