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LightSquared Seeks to Confirm Rights as Spectrum Licensee

By Jeff Carlisle, Executive Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy
December 22, 2011

LightSquared has spent the past year conducting and participating in studies to ensure our network operates within our spectrum, and within the rule of law. We have scientifically proven that GPS interference is not caused by our signal going into GPS’s spectrum, but because GPS devices look into our spectrum. They don’t stay in their own lane, and because they don’t, Americans are being deprived of LightSquared’s promise to bring more affordable and reliable wireless broadband service to every corner of the country. Further, innovators are being sent a clear signal – don’t bother making better and more efficient devices because old, poorly designed technology is protected by stifling new ideas and future solutions.

For these reasons, we have sent a petition to the FCC asking the Commission to confirm our company’s right to use the spectrum licensed to us by the federal government. The petition does this by asking the Commission to confirm, under their current rules, that GPS devices are not entitled to protection from interference when they look into our band. Should they be protected when they stay in their own lane? Absolutely, but they don’t, even after we provided the GPS industry eight years’ notice that we were going to build a ground network.

What makes that even more remarkable is the fact that, over this period of time, plenty of other companies adapted without increasing costs to consumers. For example, cell phone manufacturers incorporated extremely inexpensive filters into their devices, ensuring that the more than 300 million cell phones in the U.S. are compatible with our network. However, those companies that chose to ignore their obligation to produce robust, fully-filtered equipment are trying to derail our plans to make affordable broadband access ubiquitous in America. How can it be that your cellphone can work but it’s just too much trouble for the companies that build other kinds of GPS receivers?

While we have funded research and development to mitigate any interference, we will not bear the financial burden caused by the GPS industry’s failure to prepare for the deployment of our network, on our licensed spectrum. We don’t believe consumers should bear the cost, either. The GPS industry had almost a decade to prepare. At our own expense, almost $200 million in fact, we were able to develop engineering solutions to mitigate the problem in less than six months. At the same time, GPS companies made no progress on improving their filters and continued to sell the same old equipment to consumers and the government.

LightSquared has made a commitment to bring world-class wireless broadband connectivity to 260 million Americans by 2015 – and to do so by investing $14 billion of private funds in our nation’s broadband infrastructure. Recent government testing confirmed those 300 million GPS-enabled cell phones are compatible with LightSquared’s network. Several top-tier GPS device manufacturers, including Javad GNSS, PCTel and Hemisphere, have also successfully developed and tested filters and antennas that are compatible. The purpose of LightSquared’s petition to the FCC is to make sure everyone has the facts about the science, our mitigation proposals are clearly understood and we all operate within the rule of law — even GPS manufacturers.

Jeff Carlisle serves as LightSquared’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy. Carlisle, who previously served as vice president of regulatory affairs for SkyTerra, is responsible for all domestic and international regulatory and policy matters including those at the FCC, Congress, the Executive Branch, the ITU and in foreign markets.

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