NEWS ANALYSIS: LightSquared, the hard-pressed company that wants to build a Satellite LTE network, is complaining that the government conducted interference tests in secret and used obsolete and niche devices.
people who run LightSquared are not happy campers. Of course, they have plenty
of reasons for this particular winter of discontent, but in the case of the
military testing of LightSquared's interference with GPS devices, they might
have a reason. The government testers, the company claims, haven't been playing
course, that's kind of a given. Washington rarely plays fair after all. But in
the case of LightSquared and the interference tests, the playing field may have
been more than a little slanted. The even bigger problem is we can't find out.
what happened. In January of 2010, LightSquared was given a license to deliver
satellite-based Long Term Evolution (LTE) data services to resellers contingent
service not interfering with GPS
. While there have been a series of things
that should have happened in different ways, what ultimately ended up happening
is a series of tests were conducted in the early summer of 2010 by a committee
working under the auspices of the Space-Based Positioning
Navigation & Timing National Executive Committee
tests showed that LightSquared's data service when operated as then planned
would interfere with GPS receivers
, mainly because the adjacent channel
interference would overwhelm the receivers that are designed to detect the
extremely weak timing signals from GPS satellites. LightSquared changed its
band usage to only use that portion of its frequencies farthest
away from GPS
. The tests were rerun by a government technical group, and
that group once again said the LightSquared data delivery system interfered
with the GPS receivers being tested-and that there was no remediation possible.
things didn't look good for LightSquared. The problem is the company says it
couldn't obtain the test results, couldn't learn how the test failed and wasn't
even present for the test. Considering that LightSquared engineers were part of
the original testing done by the PNT group, this is an unexpected difference,
and the rationale hasn't been explained.
that time, LightSquared has made its displeasure known to anyone who would
listen. The testing, the company claimed, shouldn't have been secret, and it
should have tested GPS receivers that were the sort of devices that normal
consumers are likely to encounter. Worse, the secrecy was such that
LightSquared couldn't even find out what actually happened after the tests were
all of this going on, a source connected with LightSquared made a series of
internal emails available to eWEEK
The emails show a clear series of frustrating communications between a
LightSquared executive and the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which is
conducting the tests.
the emails complained to The Space and Naval Warfare Systems
Command (SPAWAR) that the testing that the Command was conducting was
outside of the parameters agreed to by the test plan set up by the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and incorporated a
different set of devices.