Mobile

Nevermind the GPS interference, LightSquared has a solution

Wholesale mobile broadband provider LightSquared issued a new plan today outlining a solution for the GPS interference problems caused by the company’s 4G LTE wireless network.

LightSquared says the solution will “protect the public’s stake in GPS” and won’t delay launching the company’s wireless network in the first half of 2012, which could be an overly positive estimate judging from the assessment of problems associated with correcting the interference problems.

“This is a solution which ensures that tens of millions of GPS users won’t be affected by LightSquared’s launch,” said Sanjiv Ahuja, LightSquared Chairman and CEO.

Last month, a pair of government agencies completed tests showing that LightSquared’s 4G LTE network interferes with GPS signals, affecting aircraft and automobile navigation systems and emergency response services like OnStar. Fixing the problem could be both costly and time-consuming, according to the agencies.

According to LightSquared’s plan, the government agencies’ test results indicated that only a certain portion of the company’s 10MHz block of frequencies caused interference to many GPS receivers, and those happen to be the same set of frequencies the company planned to use for the initial launch of its nationwide wireless broadband network.

However, the company said it determined that a different, lower portion of its 10MHz spectrum block didn’t create the same risk of interference because it’s lower on the spectrum band and located further away from the GPS frequencies.

“Test results show this lower block of frequencies is largely free of interference issues with the exception of a limited number of high- precision GPS receivers that are specifically designed to rely on LightSquared’s spectrum,” the company stated, adding that it planned to use the lower portion of its spectrum to accommodate its customers over the next few years anyway.

To ensure it reaches its wireless network launch deadlines, LightSquared has struck a deal with Inmarsat, the satellite company that controls the alternative block of spectrum in the L Band. LightSquared will also modify its FCC license to reduce the maximum authorized power of its base-station transmitters by over 50 percent — limiting LightSquared to the power authorized for use in 2005, which will provide additional protection to GPS, according to the company.

The Virginia-based company recently reached a 15-year deal with Sprint to provide high-speed wireless service for the carrier’s 4G LTE network. Yet, there was no mention of the deal in LightSquared’s release.

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