OVERNIGHT TECH: Fixing LightSquared could take a decade, general says

THE LEDE: Gen. William Shelton told a House Armed Services subcommittee Thursday that fixing interference problems that wireless startup LightSquared causes to Global Positioning System (GPS) devices could cost billions of dollars and take a decade or more.

LightSquared plans to provide wholesale wireless broadband services through a network of satellites and land-based cell towers. In response to tests that showed its network interferes with GPS devices, LightSquared agreed to operate its land-based cell towers on only the lower 10 MHz of its spectrum.

Even with this modified proposal, the network will still cause problems for some high-precision GPS devices. LightSquared says it has developed ways to use filters and antennas to allow the precision GPS devices to function in the presence of its network.

{mosads}But Shelton said implementing LightSquared’s proposed fixes on sensitive GPS equipment would be expensive and take years.

He said GPS devices were designed to work in a “quiet neighborhood,” and that LightSquared’s network, which is billions of times more powerful than GPS signals, is like “if you put a rock band in that very quiet neighborhood.” 

LightSquared responds to accusation of White House favor: Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO of LightSquared, rejected arguments Thursday that his company has received support from the White House as a political favor.

“Regulators from both parties understand LightSquared’s approach will create more competition in the marketplace, put downward pressure on the prices paid by consumers, create good paying jobs in the tech sector, and give Americans access to the most modern cellular technology. LightSquared’s plan has drawn bipartisan support because it’s right for the country,” he said.

“Any suggestion that LightSquared has run roughshod over the regulatory process is contradicted by the reality of eight long years spent gaining approvals,” he said.

“It’s also ludicrous to suggest LightSquared’s success depends on political connections. This is a private company that has never taken one dollar in taxpayer money. … It’s difficult to charge that LightSquared has undue political influence when it was denied the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing of the House Armed Service Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee — or even be allowed a one-on-one meeting with the chairman of that committee prior to the hearing, as the GPS industry was given.”

Facebook touts child-safety policies: Facebook touted its policies to protect children online at a reception on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.)  and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) spoke to the gathering of journalists, congressional staffers and tech experts. Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) were also in attendance.

Facebook associate general counsel Chris Sonderby outlined the steps that Facebook has taken to protect children. He said Facebook works with authorities to help children who might be considering suicide.

The social network uses an identification system that compares every photo uploaded on the site to a database of known child pornography. If an uploaded photo matches an image in the database, Facebook automatically blocks the upload and notifies law enforcement.  Facebook also has Amber Alert pages for every state that send out messages when a child goes missing. 


President Obama will sign the America Invents Act into law Friday morning at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va. The Senate passed the patent reform measure on Sept. 8. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called the bill the ” most significant change to U.S. patent law in 175 years.”


Fifteen House Democrats led by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) wrote to President Obama on Thursday urging his administration to swiftly settle the Justice Department’s lawsuit to block AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

The White House pressured Gen. William Shelton to make changes to his testimony about LightSquared, The Daily Beast reported.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces subpanel, called Thursday for an investigation into whether the White House inappropriately intervened to support LightSquared.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission came under fire Thursday from a GOP lawmaker for not testifying at a committee hearing.

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a series of proposed updates to the rules designed to protect children’s privacy online, the commission said Thursday.

Former senator and Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) announced a new leadership team for Hollywood’s lobbying shop on Thursday. 

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