Telecom and information chief plans new tests of LightSquared

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 In a letter on Friday to Defense Deputy Secretary William Lynn and Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari, Lawrence Strickling, the head of NTIA, said the agencies should work with LightSquared to test whether its network still interferes with GPS devices on the lower 10 MHz.

Although LightSquared claims moving to the lower 10 MHz will resolve the interference problems with most GPS devices, the company acknowledges there are still problems with some high-precision GPS devices.

LightSquared has said it will help develop filters to mitigate the problems with high-precision devices.

Strickling told the federal agencies to concentrate on testing cellular and personal navigation receivers. The agencies will test the high-precision devices once LightSquared presents a plan to fix those interference issues. 

"That data, combined with information the Federal Communications Commission is collecting on receiver design and specifications, will allow us to understand more completely the interference interaction and causation and provide necessary information to determine whether we need to propose any additional operating condition on LightSquared to mitigate overload from LightSquared base stations to these types of devices," Strickling wrote.

Although LightSquared has previously claimed no new tests are necessary, the company applauded news of the letter.  

"The NTIA’s letter has established a path forward that will finally allow LightSquared to put concerns about the impact of its network on GPS to rest," said LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja. "We have always said that we believe this to be a resolvable engineering issue, and we are completely confident in our ability — working in cooperation with the GPS industry — to find a solution to the interference problem." 

The GPS industry praised the call for additional testing. 

"The Coalition supports additional testing of the LightSquared network and is gratified that so many government officials have called for it," said Dale Leibach, a spokesman for Coalition to Save Our GPS. "We remain concerned that LightSquared’s third and most recent proposal this year does not claim to solve interference to high-precision GPS receivers, so it makes sense that testing of those receivers would be delayed until filters actually exist.”

--This post was updated at 4:01 p.m.