LightSquared Is Using Its Money to Lobby the FCC Into Actions Contrary to Public Interest

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-12-23 Print this article Print


LightSquared, obviously motivated by the desire to make lots of money by selling Internet access to phone companies, is using the funds it raised from hedge fund managers and other investors to lobby the FCC into actions contrary to the public interest. Sound familiar? It should: This is the same tactic that AT&T used to get its merger with T-Mobile approved. AT&T has lots more money than LightSquared, but the result will probably be the same, which is failure.

Meanwhile, LightSquared is making much of its status as the licensee of the spectrum adjacent to GPS. But while it did receive a license before testing for GPS interference was conducted, that license was contingent on noninterference with GPS. The facts are that LightSquared's system does indeed interfere with the GPS devices used by the U.S. government, including the military, the Department of Homeland Security and a wide variety of public safety organizations.

LightSquared insists that GPS receivers should have been designed so that LightSquared wouldn't interfere with them. This position is specious. While it is possible to design a GPS receiver that avoids interference at the lower end of its spectrum, the fact is that the millions of GPS receivers weren't designed that way because they came before LightSquared existed, and LightSquared's use of the spectrum would effectively render them useless.

Millions of consumers would be out hundreds to thousands of dollars each if the LightSquared system were to start operation-a cost to the economy reaching well into the billions of dollars just for the equipment. The cost of the loss of the service to the economy would be even greater.

The fact is that LightSquared's statements, including its claims in its release announcing its filing with the FCC, are little more than self-serving misdirection. Sure, inexpensive filters would help reduce the problem, but I don't see LightSquared offering to pay for those millions of filters or the cost of installing them.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

If the military finds out that LightSquared is interfering with its ability to perform its mission in any way, both the Air Force and the Navy have the ability and the legal authority to eliminate the problem. You thought those huge lasers mounted in Boeing 747s were science fiction? They're not. And the Navy has already demonstrated its ability to shoot down a satellite using missiles from an Aegis cruiser.

Of course, if this were to happen, I'm sure that LightSquared would fight back with millions of dollars in lobbying money and maybe even issue a dreaded press release. So I guess we should all be prepared.


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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