Congress Questions the Viability of LightSquared’s Interference Solutions

The day after sending a petition to the FCC requesting that the commission establish enforceable reliability standards for unlicensed GPS equipment, LightSquared complained that it had been denied a seat at a congressional hearing held by the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari said at the hearing,”There appears to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS.” Porcari’s comments were met with agreement from three additional witnesses.

LightSquared has been critical of the results obtained in testing its planned service implementation against interference with GPS receivers. LightSquared contends that the results have been “manipulated” by the government and GPS manufacturers. LightSquared also maintains that any interference is the fault of the unfiltered design of GPS receivers that allows it to occur.

Thomas Hendricks, senior vice president, safety, security and operations for the Airlines for America (formerly the Air Transportation Association), testified in regard to the LightSquared network proposal. “The incontestable fact is that it will create widespread GPS interference, which will have ruinous effects on aviation,” he said.  “Experts have repeatedly reached that conclusion. LightSquared’s proposal therefore should be withdrawn. The matter needs to be put to rest once and for all.”

In a related complaint, LightSquared spokesman Lew Phelps indicated that in addition to the unfairness of being left out of the subcommittee hearing, the treatment dealt both LightSquared and Harbinger Capital by Sen. Charles Grassley (R- Iowa) was equally unfair.

Phelps claims that Sen. Grassley’s requests for information from the GPS industry was much “narrower.”  He added, “The GPS manufacturers have not provided a single document in response to the Senator’s request. The Senator has not publicly complained at all about their lack of responsiveness.” Phelps went on to say that he believed that documents held by the GPS industry would show that far more lobbying has taken place by GPS manufacturers than by LightSquared.

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