US General Says White House Persuaded Him To Change His Testimony About LightSquared Network’s Effect on GPS Reception
LightSquared is under attack from Republicans who have asked for an investigation into whether the White House pressured its Air Force Space Commander into changing his testimony on possible GPS interference caused by LightSquared’s activities. William Shelton told lawmakers during a classified briefing earlier this month that the White House tried to persuade him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to LightSquared.
The White House asked the general to alter testimony to add that he supported its policy to add more broadband for commercial use, and also that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days, officials familiar with the situation told the Daily Beast via Defense Systems.
The Pentagon has expressed concerns that LightSquared’s new wireless project might interfere with Global Positioning System technology used by warfighters.
It’s possible a technical solution exists, where the LightSquared network would not jam GPS receivers, said Shelton. However, it would likely require testing and changes to DoD software. “We have not estimated cost,” said Shelton, but he did estimate receiver updates could cost billions of dollars and take more than a decade to complete–due to the fact that “there are probably a million receivers out there in the military, maybe even more than thatinterfere with nearby GPS frequencies.”
Shortly afterwards, key players in the GPS industry and government officials warned that LightSquared’s proposed architecture would disrupt GPS reception, throwing off airplanes, precision tractors, and space craft.
Philip Falcone’s investment fund is the majority owner of LightSquared. Accusations are flying that Falcone’s political donations were used to buy political influence, and if that political influence led to Shelton being asked to go easy on LightSquared.
LightSquared Scrutiny Affecting Sprint’s Hope For A 4G Network
Sprint is going to face more uncertainty as it is heavily relying on 4G capabilities from LightSquared.
Long-term Evolution, or LTE, is the fastest, most powerful 4G standard available in the U.S., but it’s currently offered by only one carrier: Verizon. AT&T is expected to deploy its own LTE network by the end of the year. Currently, Sprint (NYSE: S) is enlisting the services of Clearwire (CLWR), but that company’s service has been less than stellar and financing problems are making its future look rather dim. The fact that Sprint Nextel owns a large portion of Clearwire also hurts.