LightSquared is under a new deadline to prove that it can come up with an affordable solution to stop the company’s wireless network from interfering with global positioning system (GPS) signals. If LightSquared can produce a viable solution in time, then the FCC and Congress are likely going to have to decide who will pay for the upgrades.
GPS device manufacturers have said that a solution to LightSquared’s GPS interference issues would take a decade and billions of dollars to create. But LightSquared said “viable and inexpensive solutions have entered the marketplace….and would cost roughly $4 million to develop, possibly less.”
To date, LightSquared has spent $9 million to develop filters to ensure its signal did not go into the spectrum licensed to GPS. They claim that any interference remaining is caused by GPS signals looking into its spectrum, and not the other way around. LightSquared says the GPS industry should pay for the components, arguing that the GPS industry should have vacated the spectrum years ago, and is therefore responsible for the upgrades.
However GPS device manufacturers argue the GPS system is too crucial to risk interference. But LightSquared has committed $50 million to retrofit or replace high-precision GPS devices in use by federal agencies.
LightSquared’s GPS interference solutions will undergo extensive NTIA and FCC testing in the coming weeks. Results from FCC tests are expected in early November.
LightSquared needs FCC clearance to use its airwaves by Dec. 31 or face a possible rupture of a 15-year, $13.5 billion cost-sharing agreement to build a network with Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S), Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York, said in an interview last month.