Advocates for LightSquared are using a time-honored Washington technique in arguing that the company should be allowed to proceed with plans to build a 4G wireless broadband network – they’re reframing the debate, painting objections about interference with GPS signals as needlessly complex.
“Our opponents have turned basic engineering issues into a political debate,” LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja told a Capitol Hill audience Dec. 7.
According to the company, the three private firms that make GPS equipment – Javad GNSS, PCTel and Partron – have been testing interference solutions and those tests have gone well.
“Preliminary results show that GPS devices tested in the lab easily surpass performance standards thanks to these newly developed solutions,” Ahuja said. “We are confident that this independent testing will mirror testing being done by the federal government.”
With those test results in hand, LightSquared brought in former politicians, including Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.), to say that Washington should get out of the way and let engineers resolve the matter.
Still to come are results of the government’s test of high-precision GPS equipment, expected early next year, and tests by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that are expected in the coming weeks.
But LightSquared is pushing ahead with its pitch for improving communications across rural America, noting the company’s proposed $14 billion investment in infrastructure and the ability to create thousands of jobs across the nation.
Meanwhile, Jim Kirkland, vice president of Trimble and a founding member of The Coalition to Save Our GPS, is trying to slow LightSquared’s momentum. “It is obviously extremely premature to claim at this point that these latest tests demonstrate that LightSquared’s proposed repurposing of the mobile satellite band for terrestrial operations is ‘compatible’ with high-precision GPS,” Kirkland says in a statement. “Even if new equipment solutions are fully tested and verified, these existing high-precision receivers will have to be retrofitted or replaced. LightSquared still refuses to accept the financial responsibility for addressing interference to existing devices, and so has not offered a comprehensive solution in any way, shape, or form.”