LightSquared, a communications company is currently building a nationwide 4G-LTE open wireless broadband network designed to integrate satellite and terrestrial technology. Their goal is to create the country’s first wholesale-only wireless broadband network.
To make the system work LightSquared wants to use the U.S. governments’ global positioning systems (GPS) to ensure nationwide coverage. The drawback, the signal would interfere with the global positioning system used by the military, pilots and cellphones. In short all GPS enabled devices would not work as intended or may not work at all.
Artist Interpretation of GPS satellite
Federal officials warn that wireless data transmissions would interfere with their GPS technology and could lead to airplane crashes and failed military operations. It could also cost the U.S. military billions of dollars to accommodate LightSquared’s proposed technical fixes.
LightSquared says the military’s cost analyst is extravagant and has offered to pay $50 million for federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration, to retrofit or replace their GPS devices.
The offer by LightSquared however does not include any GPS device owned by civilians such as cellphones, car navigation systems, and handhelds.
Republicans have criticized the process of the FCC to fast-track a private company to become a broadband Internet service provider. LightSquared would use government equipment and technology to compete with AT&T, Verizon Wireless and other broadband providers.
LightSquared Chief Executive Sanjiv Ahuja says the company has not received any special favors from the FCC.
LightSquared is currently testing their system and is expected to start service in 2012.
LightSquared makes 4G case to the public (news.cnet.com)
LightSquared to Defend Project in Open Letter in Newspapers (pcworld.com)
Air Force security issues stall broadband project (springfieldnewssun.com)
For LightSquared, a High Bar: High-Speed Wireless Network’s Fate Hinges on Switching Off Interference (online.wsj.com)