F.C.C. Bars the Use of Airwaves for a Broadband Plan
By EDWARD WYATT
Published: February 14, 2012WASHINGTON — A proposed wireless broadband network that would provide voice and Internet service using airwaves once reserved for satellite-telephone transmissions should be shelved because it interferes with GPS technology, the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.
Kevin Wolf/Associated Press
Times Topic: Federal Communications Commission
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News
The F.C.C. statement revokes the conditional approval for the network given last year. It comes after an opinion by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which said that “there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time” with GPS devices. The telecommunications and information agency oversees telecommunications policy at the Commerce Department.
The news appears to squash the near-term hopes for the network pushed by LightSquared, a Virginia company that is majority-owned by Philip Falcone, a New York hedge fund manager.
LightSquared said on Tuesday that the testing of the network was “severely flawed.” It “remains committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry to resolve all remaining concerns,” the company said in a statement.
The company said it “profoundly disagrees” with the results of the testing, which was done by a national engineering group, and the telecommunication agency’s opinions, “which disregard more than a decade of regulatory orders, and in doing so, jeopardize private enterprise, jobs and investment in America’s future.”
The F.C.C., which had granted a conditional approval to LightSquared to go ahead with its network pending the results of more testing, will now propose barring near-term deployment of the LightSquared system, the F.C.C. said. The commission will issue a request for public comment on the proposed action on Wednesday.
LightSquared has argued that its network would have relieved a potential “spectrum crunch” and created billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs in support of President Obama’s push to expand wireless Internet access around the country.
The network has been opposed by organizations and industries that make heavy use of GPS systems, including the military, aviation, construction and agriculture.
After earlier negative test results, LightSquared had proposed using only land-based transmitters and receivers, rather than satellites, to transmit broadband signals over a narrow slice of the satellite airwaves. The company intended to build a wholesale network, selling access to other companies that provide broadband service directly to consumers.
The telecommunications and information agency said tests showed that even a scaled-back version of the company’s wireless network would interfere with GPS signals and systems.
Interference of LightSquared’s signals with GPS systems is a tricky issue for the F.C.C., telecommunications experts say, because the interference appears not to be the fault of LightSquared. The most commonly used GPS receivers tend to pick up signals from outside of the segment of spectrum designated for GPS.
Because the satellite-telephone segment of airwaves, used by LightSquared, is next to the GPS band on the electromagnetic spectrum, GPS devices will frequently hear those extraneous transmissions.
The F.C.C. could have told GPS users and systems manufacturers that they were at fault for letting their devices stray into nearby airwaves, but that would mean overhauling an industry now in widespread use.
Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy, wrote on the company’s blog this week that the GPS industry had apparently become “too big to fail,” seeking protection from the federal government for its own mistakes.
“GPS manufacturers have been selling devices that listen into frequencies outside of their assigned spectrum band — namely into LightSquared’s licensed band,” Mr. Carlisle wrote. “The GPS industry has leveraged years of insider relationships and massive lobbying dollars to make sure that they don’t have to fix the problem they created.”Read More...
That's sad... I hope that things can be worked out in the Wireless World sooner than 10 Years!:O The US is already lagging behind the rest of the Industrialized World in Internet Systems and Average Speeds, as it is...