US regulators pull plug on LightSquared

Feb 15, 2012
The Federal Communications Commission pulled the plug on an ambitious plan to build a high-speed wireless broadband network, citing potential interference with GPS navigation devices.

US telecom regulators have pulled the plug on an ambitious plan to build a high-speed wireless broadband network, citing potential interference with GPS navigation devices.

The said late Tuesday that it was revoking permission for LightSquared to build a 4G-LTE network that the company had said would cover more than 90 percent of the United States by 2015.

Explaining the decision, the FCC cited research done by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the agency that coordinates spectrum use by the US military and federal government.

"LightSquared's proposal to provide ground-based mobile service offered the potential to unleash new spectrum for and enhance competition," the FCC said in a statement.

"The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted," it said. "(NTIA) has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time.

"Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared."

In a statement, the Reston, Virginia-based LightSquared said it "profoundly disagrees" with the NTIA's conclusions and they were the result of a "severely flawed testing process that relied on obsolete and niche devices."

At the same time, the company said it "remains committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry to resolve all remaining concerns.

"LightSquared is confident that the parties will continue the ongoing efforts to explore all engineering options and alternatives to find a solution to this difficult issue," the company said in a statement.

LightSquared, which is backed by Philip Falcone, founder and chief executive of Harbinger Capital Partners, planned to use satellite spectrum to build its its fourth-generation, or 4G, .

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User comments : 12

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TabulaMentis
2 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2012
Is there not some way that individuals could build their own wireless network using WiMax, LTE, etc. like HAM radio operators did years ago and interconnect them someway? It would beat paying $50.00 or more a month for Internet service thru an ISP.
ryggesogn2
1.9 / 5 (13) Feb 15, 2012
"Falcone is a big political donor who has given exclusively to Democrats and independents since Obama's election. Emails have surfaced showing LightSquared executives discussing donations to Obama's campaign in policy conversations with White House officials. Finally, there's the eye-catching detail that another Obama donor, George Haywood, steered then-Sen. Obama to invest $90,000 in the company (then named SkyTerra) back in 2005."
http://campaign20...mbroglio
Skultch
5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2012
Is there not some way that individuals could build their own wireless network using WiMax, LTE, etc. like HAM radio operators did years ago and interconnect them someway? It would beat paying $50.00 or more a month for Internet service thru an ISP.


At some point, there has to be a connection(s) to THE Internet and someone has to pay for that(those). Merely creating an isolated net and connecting some residences and businesses isn't that valuable of a network. It worked with HAM because people only wanted point-to-point voice comms. We have much greater demands of our networking these days.

Sure, at some point in the distant future The Internet might be "built out" or "complete" and all the ISPs will have recouped their investments. The consumers will still be paying for the electricity and maintenance, though, and probably investing into space infrastructure indefinitely.
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2012
People will continue to have to join an ISP and pay a fee, unless they can get it for free like the company NetFree use to offer. What I was thinking about is each location would have a WiMax or LTE device that would connect to the next closest wireless connection at a neighbor (or building with repeater) and repeat the broadband multiplexed signals on down the line until it reaches an Internet grid. Some cities/counties are doing this already, but a little differently than what I have explained above.

Companies could manufacture the wireless devices with 256-bit encryption so eavesdropping would hopefully not be a problem and each device could repeat thousands of users simultaneously. Competition should not be stymied because someone needs to recoup their money first. The problem I think would be getting the FCC to sanction the technology with so much money on the line in lost revenue for the fat cats.
Skultch
5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2012
This is the first I've heard of "NetFree", but NetZero only offered free dial-up service as a way of building a client base to eventually charge.

I think I get what you're saying now. That strategy is called WDS or MESH, meaning the broadcast-to-end-user devices are also functional backbone nodes. There is an inherent limitation to how long the backbone can be because the further down the line you go, the more resources are taken up by the backbone throughput, thus the end user gets less and less bandwidth. In most cases it's more cost effective to build more powerful broadcast points (towers).

You have to consider spectrum and hardware limitations, installation and maintenance costs, etc. These individuals will have to co-op the upkeep and upgrades. So essentially, you are arguing for total public (government) control over networks or The Internet. That's kinda scary, to say the least.
TabulaMentis
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2012
So essentially, you are arguing for total public (government) control over networks or The Internet. That's kinda scary, to say the least.
Great response. I am reading up on WDS and MESH on Wikipedia.

As a note, Rupert Murdoch is also very scary. The devices would have to communicate through an ISP, so the government would still be able to spy on people. Just trying to get the poor and people in rural areas high speed broadband service. That is what the idea is all about, but the fat cats want to get their share.
Skultch
3.8 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2012
Just trying to get the poor and people in rural areas high speed broadband service. That is what the idea is all about, but the fat cats want to get their share.


You've certainly got this guy on your side there. I honestly think the Internet is going to save humanity. I think it will educate-away the rampant xenophobia in our species and finally bring enough of us close enough together to enable true empathy and compassion. This will take at least 3 more generations, but I really do think it has that potential.
that_guy
not rated yet Feb 15, 2012
@Tabula -

What you are suggesting is certainly possible to some degree, but impractical as skulch pointed out - The network becomes inefficient at distances without extremely strong backbones, and it does not connect to the actual internet that we use.

Your suggestion would be more like an old BBS board of the 80s.

Also, because the way the government licenses the airwaves and interference you would get from say, truckers on the ham radio, you would only be able to build a semi-reliable network over wifi - meaning the nodes would have to be close together.

That said, Satellite provides "broadband" coverage for many people, and LTE is penetrating the rural areas as well. It's cheaper to land a couple LTE towers in a community of 20K people than it is to wire 10k homes.
plasticpower
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2012
"Falcone is a big political donor who has given exclusively to Democrats and independents since Obama's election. Emails have surfaced showing LightSquared executives discussing donations to Obama's campaign in policy conversations with White House officials. Finally, there's the eye-catching detail that another Obama donor, George Haywood, steered then-Sen. Obama to invest $90,000 in the company (then named SkyTerra) back in 2005."
http://campaign20...mbroglio

And your point? LightSquared still got denied. So if they did any lobbying, it fell flat on its face because the government did what's right [for once]?
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2012
because the government did what's right [for once]?

A broken clock is correct twice a day.
But don't hear much about the 'liberals' lobbying and trying to profit from Light^2.
SamB
1 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2012
LightSquared should just approach the Chinese government and bypass the US regulators.
SteveL
not rated yet Feb 16, 2012
You've certainly got this guy on your side there. I honestly think the Internet is going to save humanity. I think it will educate-away the rampant xenophobia in our species and finally bring enough of us close enough together to enable true empathy and compassion. This will take at least 3 more generations, but I really do think it has that potential.

On the other hand over the last generation and a half people have been spending less and less face time actually with other real people, and there is a sense of dissociation where people feel less accountable for good behavior and courtesy towards each other. People comment electronically in ways they never would when face to face with another. We are making fantastic progress in the dissimination of information, but the cost seems to be our ability to be civilized.

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