LightSquared Proposes Non-GPS Killing Network

But critics say it could still interfere with signals

Mobile broadband start-up LightSquared faced a major setback in attempting to launch a new national, high-speed, wholesale-only wireless network—namely, a federal engineering advisory group’s suggestion that the FCC should rescind its decision to let LightSquared build the network. The proposed network, the advisory group said in a report, could interfere with GPS signals in space and on the ground.

Now, LightSquared is offering up a new plan that it says would allow it to build the network without any damaging side effects by using a different block of spectrum that wouldn't interfere with GPS signals, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“This is a solution which ensures that tens of millions of GPS users won't be affected by LightSquared's launch. At the same time, this plan offers a clear path for LightSquared to move forward with the launch of a nationwide wireless network,” said the company’s CEO Sanjiv Ahuja. The plan would reduce the risk of interference for 99.5 percent of GPS receivers in the U.S., he said, and for that last .5 percent, LightSquared would work with companies to create “technical safeguards.”

But not everyone is happy with the proposal. “LightSquared's supposed solution is nothing but a 'Hail Mary' move,” said Jim Kirkland, a founding member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, which originally raised awareness for the issue. Kirkland said that the move to a different block of spectrum would still interfere with many critical GPS receivers.

The FCC mandates that LightSquared cover 100 million people by 2012 and 260 million by 2015. The company is planning to test the new network in the first quarter of 2012, and launch service later that year.

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