Lightsquared Tries to Outfox the Regulators
Lightsquared has reportedly spent over $3Billion on a terrestrial and satellite network to beam high speed internet around the country. The issue is that it interferes with the GPS receivers due to the proximity of its frequency to the GPS band. So while your fitness watch may not work perfectly, and that might be terrible for you, it might be outweighed by the fact that people across the country can not get wireless internet…. but the issues magnitude starts to present itself when you consider that the economy is starting to function on location services, just as much as it started to function on the internet a decade ago. The real problem starts to come into focus as you consider that the FAA just got a boost to speed the switch to airplane routing on GPS. Would you really want an airliner to be blacked out so Lightsquared can provide high speed internet access?
The issue lies in the fact that Lightsquared has a strong signal adjacent to the GPS band and that some GPS receivers listen to frequencies outside of the GPS band, and in the satellite band. Lightsquared considers these faulty receivers, and they may have a point. This past week, Lightsquared asked for a standard to be set for GPS receivers, which may be a slow process, and eventually end up in a place where legacy GPS receivers will cease to work properly in the future.
The battle lines are drawn, and on one side you have millions of deployed and commercially important GPS receivers, whose performance affects a majority of the population while on the other side, you have a company who has billions of dollars invested, a pile of legal rights and most likely a short fuse on getting their investment working. Stay tuned.
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Posted by Scott Martin at February 11, 2012 7:27 AM