LightSquared not looking so good sans FCC approval, files petition to confirm its spectrum rights

It's been an up and down year for LightSquared, as the company lined up plenty of customers for its wholesale LTE network, but GPS interference issues have put the would-be wireless provider's plans on hold while it waits for FCC approval. According to a report by Reuters, LightSquared's finances may prevent it from exercising the patience needed to wait that long, as it posted a $427 million net loss during the first nine months of 2011. Apparently, the company needs a cash infusion by Q2 of 2012 to pay the hundreds of millions it owes Sprint under their agreement, make its debt payments and continue with its business plans. Naturally, it'll be hard to get the dollars it needs without FCC approval, so LightSquared has filed a petition with the FCC asking the commission to confirm its rights to the spectrum LightSquared licensed over eight years ago. Now, we play the waiting game to see if the FCC full-court press gives LightSquared's LTE network the green light. In the meantime, check out a copy of the petition at the second source below.

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LightSquared Files Petition for Declaratory Ruling, Asks FCC to Confirm Its Rights as Spectrum Licensee

RESTON, Va., Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- LightSquared today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to confirm LightSquared's right to use the spectrum licensed to the company by the federal government. In addition, the company asked the FCC to confirm that commercial GPS manufacturers have no right to interference protection from LightSquared's network since they are not licensed users of that spectrum.

"The one inescapable conclusion from two rounds of independent testing is that the incompatibility problem is not caused by LightSquared's network," said LightSquared's executive vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy Jeff Carlisle. "It is clear that GPS devices are purposefully designed to look into LightSquared's licensed spectrum, and given this evidence, we believe decision-makers should consider LightSquared's legal rights as the licensee."

The company asserts that commercial GPS manufacturers are responsible for having designed and sold unlicensed devices that use spectrum licensed to LightSquared and its predecessor companies.

"(C)ommercial GPS receivers are not licensed, do not operate under any service rules, and thus are not entitled to any interference protection whatsoever,'' LightSquared wrote in its petition to the agency. The petition also notes that the FCC itself has stated that the GPS industry has been on notice for almost a decade that LightSquared was planning to use its spectrum to launch a nationwide broadband network.

"LightSquared has had FCC authorization to build its network for over eight years and that authorization was endorsed by the GPS industry, and fully reviewed and allowed to proceed by several other government agencies," said Carlisle. "Commercial GPS device-makers have had nearly a decade to design and sell devices that do not infringe on LightSquared's licensed spectrum. They have no right to complain in the eleventh-hour about incompatibility when they had ample opportunity to avoid this problem."

In addition to more than 300 million GPS-enabled cell phones that government testing has confirmed are compatible with LightSquared's spectrum, several GPS device manufacturers, including Javad GNSS and Hemisphere, have also successfully developed and tested devices that are also compatible. The development of these LightSquared-compatible GPS devices proves that GPS manufacturers could have designed their equipment to filter out LightSquared's signals and avoid interference.

"While we ask the FCC today to confirm our legal rights, LightSquared remains fully committed to cooperate with all parties – the GPS industry, GPS users, and the federal government – to ensure that LightSquared's network is deployed in a way that is compatible with GPS users," said Carlisle. "LightSquared has always recognized the critical importance of the GPS system, and we firmly believe that GPS devices can peacefully co-exist adjacent to our network."

"This petition goes to the very core of the FCC's mission, which is to ensure that the nation's airwaves are governed by regulatory certainty,'' said Sanjiv Ahuja, LightSquared chairman and chief executive officer. "In the 21st century, the fair and efficient management of the nation's spectrum will unleash a technological revolution in wireless broadband that will bring untold benefits to all Americans.

"To encourage private innovation, entrepreneurs must have confidence and certainty over their rights to use spectrum granted by the FCC. Our country's future technological and economic achievements depend on a firm adherence to the rule of law."

LightSquared has made a commitment to bring world-class wireless broadband connectivity to 260 million Americans by 2015 – and to do so by investing $14 billion in private equity in our nation's broadband infrastructure. The company will continue to work with the federal government to arrive at a complete solution, so that it can realize the promise of building out the nation's first wholesale-only nationwide 4G-LTE network integrated with satellite coverage. The network will create jobs, foster competition and bring more affordable wireless broadband to underserved communities across America.