FCC to kill LightSquared over interference with GPS
We've been following the soap opera that is LightSquared here at AT for many months. LS owner, hedge fund manager Phllip Falcone, is a prominent Democratic party fundraiser and he had been lobbying Congress, the White House, and the FCC for months to give the green light to his scheme for a network of satellites to broadcast wireless cell phone coverage.
The problem is, the Air Force has determined that the signals from the satellites would seriously disrupt communications, GPS especially. The White House even tried to get an Air Force general to change his congressional testimony to downplay the interference issue.
Now the FCC is moving to kill Lightsquared's network of satellites.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to reject LightSquared's planned wireless network on Tuesday after the president's top adviser on telecom issues said there is "no practical way" to prevent the network from disrupting GPS devices.
Philip Falcone and his investment firm Harbinger Capital invested billions of dollars in LightSquared's plan to build a nationwide high-speed cellphone network, which now appears dead.
The FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver to move forward last year, but the company was required to demonstrate that it could first solve the interference problem.
On Tuesday, Lawrence Strickling, the assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, said government testing showed LightSquared's network would cause widespread problems with GPS devices, including ones used by pilots to prevent their airplanes from crashing.
"We conclude at this time that there are no mitigation strategies that both solve the interference issues and provide LightSquared with an adequate commercial network deployment," Strickling wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Strickling, who heads the National Telecommunication and Information Administration, concluded that even if LightSquared could develop a technology to fix the interference problem, "the time and money required for federal, commercial, and private sector users to replace technology in the field and the marketplace... cannot support the scheduled deployment of terrestrial services proposed by LightSquared."
As a result of Strickling's recommendation, the FCC will propose revoking LightSquared's conditional waiver and and indefinitely suspending its authority to operate cell towers.
Falcone's lobbying efforts have failed - and probably his company too.