FCC: No timetable for LightSquared review

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LightSquared's plan for a new wireless network hit a snag earlier this year when tests by federal regulators revealed the company's network interferes with signals from global positioning systems (GPS).

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he wants to see LightSquared co-exist with GPS.

"We're not going to do anything that creates problems for GPS safety and service as we explore technical solutions that will both protect GPS and allow a new service to launch that will lead to billions of dollars of private investment, real job creation and competition," Genachowski said at a news conference on Tuesday.

He said the review would be "fact-based" and "engineering-based." 

LightSquared is planning a hybrid service that relies on both satellite and land-based cell towers. It will sell access to its network to other companies for use with their devices.

The company's land-based network will provide 4G speeds, while its satellite network will provide reception nearly everywhere in the country.

In response to concerns about GPS interference, LightSquared agreed to only use the lower portion of its spectrum for its land-based broadband network.

FCC officials said that while the upper portion of LightSquared's spectrum clearly causes problems for GPS devices, more analysis is needed on the lower portion of LightSquared's spectrum.

GPS is considered critical to public safety because it is used by emergency responders and in the navigation of airplanes. FCC officials would not say whether LightSquared's network interferes with the military's GPS.

GPS companies raised their interference concerns late in the approval process for LightSquared. FCC officials emphasized they were not interested in blaming anyone for the current situation, but they did note that LightSquared's proposal is not substantively different from one offered several years ago when the company was called SkyTerra.

The officials said that regardless of whether GPS companies should have raised their concerns earlier, the interference issues will need to be mitigated before they can approve LightSquared's proposal. 

Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared's vice president of regulatory affairs and public policy, said the company will continue to work with the FCC and GPS companies to resolve the interference concerns.

“At the end of the day, LightSquared’s broadband network can and will coexist with our neighbors in the GPS community while creating good-paying jobs and promoting competition in an increasingly consolidated wireless market,” Carlisle said.

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