LightSquared has a problem. The wireless operator run by a hedgefund has plans to cover the United States with 4G LTE connectivity. They own spectrum that’s dangerously close to the same bands used by GPS equipment. Earlier this summer, the results of an initial series of tests showed that GPS stopped working on any receiver that was within 20+ miles of a LightSquared cell tower. The company responded by saying they’ll use another band, farther away from that of GPS, and that they’ll tune their towers to give off a weaker signal. Tests were done yet again and they show that “significant improvement” has been made, but problems remain with some high precision GPS equipment, such as the type of gear the aviation industry uses. The GPS industry obviously isn’t happy. Now the FCC is saying LightSquared needs to run yet another series of tests, though they remain vague as to what sort of testing is needed.
This brings up a larger question: What if LightSquared can’t fix their problems? What if they seriously have to scrap their project, return money to the people that invested in the company, and possibly dump the spectrum they own since it’s been found to be useless? Time will tell. The results of this new round of testing will be delivered around the end of November, which is further delaying progress on LightSquared’s network.
Now if you’ve been depending on LightSquared to introduce some competition to America’s bizarre wireless market, have no fear! The guys at Dish Network have plans to build an LTE-Advanced network that will hopefully launch at some point in 2014. Their spectrum doesn’t interfere with GPS, and they actually plan on using a more advanced wireless standard. With LTE-Advanced they’ll likely be able to break 500 megabits per second down to stationary users.
That’s a whole lot of bits.
[Image via: Aviation Safety Network]