LightSquared vs FCC: What is the right position?

An issue I’d recommend all free thinking technologists dive into is the current technological trades facing the nation over LightSquared. They are a company building a wireless network based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies combined with commercial satellite coverage in a way that will cover the entire united states in broadband. The goal: unleash the power of the mobile internet in ways only dreamed of before. LightSquared is not aiming low. They are aiming to address something the FCC called for in their National Broadband Plan: “Broadband can and must serve as a foundation for long-term economic growth, ongoing investment, and enduring job creation.”

Here is the issue: This will only work in ways that cause most GPS devices to become unreliable. That is the trade. Although theoretically every GPS device could be redesigned to function after LightSquared comes online, the practical issue is this: Would you rather have broadband everywhere or would you rather have your current GPS keep working? The FCC, responding to requests from a variety of groups and agencies, have decided to kill the LightSquared proposal. So they have answered the question for us. We will have GPS.

But what do you think we should have? I sure want my GPS. But personally I also like great bandwidth. Even though I live and work within commuting distance of one of the largest cities in the country I get poor service and I know many of my business associates do as well. When I get good service I enjoy the applications that require high bandwidth, like handheld video telecollaboration. I am more productive holding business meetings when I can see people face to face and believe others are as well and with a LightSquared LTE fabric covering the entire US we would all have that benefit.

My suggestion: Dive into the details of this and form your own opinion. I pasted the LightSquared press release responding to the FCC below. I’ve also posted links to several other related articles that can inform your opinion. Let me know please what you conclude.

LightSquared Response to FCC Public Notice

Statement from Sanjiv Ahuja, Chairman and CEO of LightSquared

RESTON, Va., February 15, 2012 – For more than a decade, LightSquared and its predecessor companies have worked to bring a private sector solution to a public problem – expanding wireless broadband connectivity to every corner of this country – and in doing so, encouraging economic development, increasing competition and lowering prices for American consumers. Recognizing that America was not keeping pace with the rest of the world with respect to wireless innovation, the United States government encouraged, and in our case, mandated investment from the private sector to help solve this problem. They did this to help ensure that we no longer lose ground to global competitors and fall behind in a technology crucial for creating jobs and growing economies in the 21st century.

Typically, when America has faced a challenge, the private and public sectors join together to help solve these problems to better serve this country. Unfortunately, with its action yesterday, the FCC has harmed not only LightSquared, but also the American public by making it impossible to build out a system that would meet public policy goals of successive administrations.

Today, we ask the FCC to restore American values of rule of law and regulatory certainty to help America maintain its place as a global leader in both public safety and economic development.

After years of receiving regulatory approvals, the FCC approved LightSquared to build its ground network in 2005. In 2010, the FCC amended that plan, requiring LightSquared to build a national broadband network that reached 260 million Americans. At the government’s mandate, LightSquared began investing billions of dollars in America’s infrastructure – without asking for any money from the American taxpayer. Yesterday, after LightSquared had already spent nearly $4 billion, the FCC changed its mind. There can be no more devastating blow to private industry and confidence in the consistency of the FCC’s decision-making process.

It is not surprising that, as with all innovative new technologies, scientific concerns became an issue. In this case, the government decided to choose winners and losers. Politicians, rather than engineers and scientists, dictated the solution to the problem from Washington.

To leave this problem unresolved is the height of bureaucratic irresponsibility and undermines the very principles that once made America the best place in the world to do business. We remain committed to finding a solution and believe that if all the parties have that same level of commitment, a solution can be found. The American people send their representatives to Washington to solve tough problems and make our country better – not to undermine and pull the rug from under private enterprise.



Chris Stern
Burson-Marsteller for LightSquared
Tel: (202) 530-4737
[email protected]

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