LightSquared Threatens Legal Action against FCC

Company blames GPS receiver makers for interference issue.

GPS Satellite
GPS Satellite

LightSquared is threatening legal action against the Federal Communications Commission if the agency does not grant the company approval to build a planned nationwide network of around 40,000 broadband towers that many experts warn will cause interference with GPS receivers.

LightSquared argues that any interference with high-precision GPS receivers from the company’s planned network is a result of GPS receivers “looking” for signals in the adjacent frequency band. In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the company argues that GPS manufacturers have ignored standards developed by the Defense Department to block reception of transmissions from nearby bands.

A spokesman said LightSquared has tried to conduct itself as a “good neighbor” to GPS receiver manufacturers and users, but nonetheless is prepared to take legal action if the FCC does not approve the company’s network after additional testing is completed. LightSquared claims that, according to FCC rules, GPS receivers are not entitled to protection from interference “if they are listening outside their band.”

The Coalition to Save Our GPS, an industry group, is fighting to block construction of LightSquared's ground network, pointing out that when the company submitted its plan to the FCC, the network was touted as being based almost solely on satellite transmissions, not a large ground network in a band next to that of Global Position System receivers.

In an open letter published in newspapers last week, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja sought to turn the tables on GPS industry advocates by arguing that GPS devices “inappropriately violate our licensed spectrum” and not the other way around.