LightSquared Gets Square Rooted – 4G LTE Network Killed by FCC

LightSquared was just dealt a death blow by the FCC due to concerns of interference, mainly with regards to GPS products:

“LightSquared’s proposal to provide ground-based mobile service offered the potential to unleash new spectrum for mobile broadband and enhance competition. The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted. This is why the Conditional Waiver Order issued by the Commission’s International Bureau prohibited LightSquared from beginning commercial operations unless harmful interference issues were resolved.

“NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time. Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared. The International Bureau of the Commission is proposing to (1) vacate the Conditional Waiver Order, and (2) suspend indefinitely LightSquared’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority to an extent consistent with the NTIA letter. A Public Notice seeking comment on NTIA’s conclusions and on these proposals will be released tomorrow.

LightSquared responded by calling the testing “seriously flawed” and that they were “committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry.” The FCC granted LightSquared a waiver in 2011 to operate a spectrum normally designed for satellite to ground wireless signals to allow them to build a nationwide 4G LTE network that would reach 260 million Americans by the end of 2015.

CNet goes into the politics of it all and how LightSquared failed to engage in political battle early on to defend their venture. Over $3 billion was invested in LightSquared for a now dead company walking. But the politics also touch the Obama Administration and not in a good way:

The company’s biggest investors, according to the Huffington Post, include [big] Obama donor and current U.S. ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips, Obama friend and investment manager George Haywood… and Barack Obama himself, who was “an early investor and came to the presidency a firm believer in expanding broadband.”

Further, the Pentagon expressed serious concerns about LightSquared with a four-star General William Shelton of the U.S. Space Command telling investigators that the White House pressured him to change his testimony given to a House committee that favored the big Democrat donor and LightSquared investor. Yet another multi-billion dollar waste of money that the Obama Administration was tied to. The good news is that LightSquared is privately funded and isn’t taxpayer funded like Solyndra, the failed solar power company.

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