Currently viewing the tag: "LightSquared"

Today, our friends at the FCC let us know they have reworked some of rules around the 800MHz spectrum. This is the spectrum that was used to

 launch mobile phones (Analog Mobile Phone Services or AMPS based) that became hot back in the 80’s. Anyway these have been cleared out thanks to the digital revolution and are available once again. Note, I think services like OnStar only very recently jumped off the band. Anyway, these rules basically realign the ownership rules to be geographic, more like the PCS, AWS and 700MHz spectrum.


So my theory is that the FCC may be preparing to swap LightSquared the 1500mHz GPS interfering spectrum for some 800Mhz. Just an idea. Nextel and Sprint got their PCS G block this way so it’s not unprecedented. 

Links: FCC

 Things are not going well for LightSquared. The FCC was waiting for the test results from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with regards to granting LightSquared their right to broadcast from their satellite and 40K node terrestrial network. In the mail back in July was a letter from Lawerence E. Strickling, the Asst. Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce, basically stating the interference to GPS from their terrestrial network is a show stopper. The FCC has assembled a working group of LightSquared and US GPS Industry Council folks to try to work it out and has told NTIA they ask for their feedback again if there were any changes from the working group. I think we’re going to go back an forth all year on this so, stay tuned for as the satellite turns…


The latest media brouhaha started with headlines like, “LightSquared’s 4G LTE network will always interfere with GPS, government says.” That shot across the bow sort of allowed the business guys to go after LightSquared’s different business model in public. (Do we all just wait to see someone fail in public???) Let me be clear about what I think…

I’m not saying that I fully comprehend LightSquared’s business model thanks to the logistics resulting in long latency of sending a packet of data from the ground to the sky and back, but I’m not closed to it either. There is a balance between the hype and the reality of where it makes sense. (Ex: Alarm monitoring!) They must be given an opportunity to participate in the free market….

Anyway seems like there is a group within the government that does not want LightSquared to interfere with their toys and makes no bones about it…just so happens there is a group of citizens that feel similarly. Mostly boaters and some farmers…ye olde’ GPS device users. OK, so the latter 2 groups create reports and send petitions to Washington against the plan with the premise being there is GPS interference by LightSquared transmitters (the emissions mask allows adjacent channel interference for the incumbent high powered DTV TX…) [As an aside, this very same problem exists in Channel 51, lower 700MHz spectrum, where the incumbent is allowed a loosey goosey transmissions mask and it interferes with the spectrum legally purchased in an FCC auction and the FCC has done very little about it.] FCC has said publicly that they will wait for the NTIA report on GPS interference before making any hasty decisions, which is probably a prudent approach. BTW, silly letter was sent to the NTIA from a government group stating National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee stated that “no additional testing is warranted at this time.”  Hmmm, and I wonder where AT&T and VZW are with all of this? Politics.


Warning, information avalanche ahead…

Sources/Links: NTIA, FCC, LightSquared, Russ’ Space, Bloomberg BNA, PR Newswire

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eWeek has an interesting commentary on how LightSquared and GPS aren’t co-existing very well. It’s a public battle, yet the GPS spectrum is not the only place with problems, lower 700MHz is in the same shape, except in today’s world, GPS is more important than broadcast TV economically. It’s a good read… There’s a second good post below the eWeek link. I like the commentary.

BTW, was thinking out loud…this GPS fiasco sort of puts LightSquared at a serious disadvantage for VoLTE deployment assuming they come up some solution here and don’t disrupt the underlying networks…But further, the satellite delay would sort of eliminate a Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) type of hand off, and makes a Circuit Switched Fall Back really a long time…bad stuff if one is dialing for e911 services…leaves them with a Dual Radio VCC (DRVCC) as their HO method. This would prevent them from wrecking GPS even if their investors demanded they push the limits of the licenses. They must find a solution here…Stay tuned…





Links: eWeek, Marcus Spectrum Solutions

Some additional info…

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I see LightSquared has both a lot of momentum and inertia at the moment. I don’t have volumes to say about them at the moment, but thought I would try to summarize with some pictures to save some of their words….

Firstly, the momentum. LightSquared received permission (a waiver) from the FCC to use the GPS (MSS) spectrum for LTE under the Ancillary Terrestrial Component rules. They managed to successfully launch and perform test calls on their first satellite, SkyTerra-1, in November (2010 of course) and they obtained $586M funding from JP Morgan and UBS in late February (2011.) After that, they secured deals to provide 4G LTE to OpenRange and roaming agreement with Cricket.

Links: FCC, LightSquared, NewAmerica Foundation,,,, AOPA

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With the controversy surrounding the GPS interference and LightSquared, it’s easy to forget LightSquared is charging ahead with their plans to launch LTE service. Just this week, LightSquared announced they have signed deals with Cricket (Roaming) and Best Buy (Reseller/Distribution.) What got my attention was PC Mag got some hands on time with the Anydata LTE MODEM. Looks like the LightSquared (recently launched) satellite must be functioning quite well.


Links: PC Mag, Anydata, LightSquared
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So, as a follow up to our earlier story on SkyTerra-1.

Launch took place November 14, 2010 12:29 EST; 23:29 local time – Baikonur, Kazakhstan

Haven’t got any indications if the startup was successful. Like I said before, if looking for volunteers to do the initial acceptance and optimization, count me in. :)

Checking out SkyTerra Mission Control (ILS), looks like we’re really close to LightSquared’s Birthday. For those unfamiliar, SkyTerra-1 is a satellite manufactured by Boeing that is one of the largest ever launched, and will have duties as LightSquared’s space based LTE coverage for the continental United States, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Mexico and the Caribbean. SkyTerra-1 will hover in a GeoStationary Orbit around 22K Feet at 101deg W, featuring  a 22m L-Band primary reflector (Antenna) with 11.9KW of TX power and support for 500 spot beams. The expected average throughput when outside is around 300-400kbps, so I guess that’s 11.9KW of single transmit (not MIMO) path power. At $400M a satellite plus the OPEX,  MIMO or TX diversity was probably too much expense to be an option. Well looks like November 14th will be the big day if all goes well for the ILS guys at the launch pad. After that there are 9 hours and 14 minutes of nail biting for the LightSquared folks. I volunteer to do the initial optimization!

Source: Boeing,,, and IDG News Service/Computerworld for the initial report

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