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Leaked FAA Report Says LightSquared Network Will Kill 794 People

A report about the effects of LightSquared’s proposed network was supposedly leaked from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week, according to a report from PC Mag. The report says the effects of LightSquared deployment would be far-reaching and potentially devastating to aviation.

The “estimated loss of life from 2014 to 2023 as a result of LightSquared impacts to GPS during a period when the nation’s aircraft were retrofitted to accommodate the LightSquared signals would include 794 deaths, with a value of life totaling $4.9 billion,” the report states.

The FAA’s Navigation Services division also said there will be over $72 billion in additional costs to U.S. taxpayers if the LightSquared LTE system is implemented. The FAA report called that estimates conservative, and it did not include injuries or property loss.

The FAA’s report, dated Jul 12,  said even a revised proposal from LightSquared to launch a national wireless broadband network would interfere with the GPS systems that US aviation depends on everyday. 

“Proposed LightSquared operations would severely impact the efficiency and modernization of the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. After the LightSquared network is deployed, GPS systems are expected to be unavailable for planned aviation use over the whole of the continental U.S. based upon FAA analysis and tests, ” the report concludes.

The FAA report said that if the LightSquared plan is put in place, U.S. aircraft would have to be retrofitted over a ten-year period, during which the industry would have to design, develop, certify and install modified equipment in the civil aviation fleet to accommodate LightSquared transmissions.

However, LightSquared representatives challenged the report, saying it was based on outdated technical information and was being circulated by SaveOurGPS.org, a coalition of GPS providers that have fought against the LightSquared network. Members of the GPS Coalition include several corporate giants such as FedEX (NYSE: FDX),  and Garmin (NASDAQ: GRMN).

LightSquared has said that it will invest $14 billion in a nationwide network of LTE towers, which is has been building out since 2003, when it received FCC approval. LightSquared has said its new solution eliminates GPS system interference problems for all but a small percentage of high-precision receivers.

“This letter discusses a LightSquared plan that is no longer on the table,” Jeff Carlisle, executive vice president of Regulatory Affairs for LightSquared, said in a statement. “It does not distinguish between operation in the spectrum farthest from GPS and the spectrum closest to it. Therefore, it doesn’t accurately reflect LightSquared’s most recent proposal which is focused solely on using the spectrum furthest away from GPS. Simply put, the vast majority of the interference issues raised by this report are no longer an issue. We look forward to discussing this with the FAA.”