LightSquared is bringing back telecommunications veteran Marc Montagner to serve as chief financial officer, responsible for the company’s daily financial operations and investor and bondholder relations.
Montagner, Lightsquared says, “will also leverage his experience as executive vice president, sales, marketing and strategy for SkyTerra, LightSquared’s predecessor company, where he worked on the regulatory, technical and business issues associated with repurposing SkyTerra’s satellite spectrum [in the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) and] for terrestrial use.”
Subsequently, LightSquared was granted a conditional waiver to operate up to 40,000 high-power 4G LTE (long term evolution) wireless network ground stations in two 10MHz swaths of the band, near the band used by the Global Position System (GPS), with the provision that the network could not go into operation if it interfered with GPS.
Tests last spring focused on LightSquared’s so-called upper band, 1545-1555 MHz, closest to the 1559-1610 MHz GPS band, showed significant, and likely catastrophic, interference to virtually all classes of consumer, military and precision agricultural GPS receivers. Subsequently, a second round of testing was conducted near Holloman AFB, N.M., focusing on LightSquared’s lower band, 1526-1536 MHz, farther away from the GPS band.
The Departments of Defense and Transportation released a joint statement on the second round of testing of GPS interference potential, saying, “A government technical group reviewed the findings from last month’s testing of LightSquared’s proposal to provide new broadband service. The final test report will be sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), which advises the president on telecommunications policy, and represents federal agencies to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Preliminary analysis of the test findings found no significant interference with cellular phones. However, the testing did show that LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to the majority of other tested general-purpose GPS receivers. Separate analysis by thealso found interference with a flight safety system designed to warn pilots of approaching terrain. The findings were presented to the technical steering group which represents the seven federal agencies that make up the Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Executive Committee. Over the next several weeks, the final analysis of the findings will be completed and a final report will be transmitted from NTIA to the FCC.”
LightSquared faces an array of opposition to its MSS band operations. Language in the Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 prohibits the FCC from granting LightSquared operating approval if it interferes with military GPS in any way. On Dec. 31, 2011, President Barack Obama, while vacationing in Hawaii, signed the bill into law.
Other congressional opposition to FCC approval includes amendments in both House and Senate versions of financial services and government affairs appropriations bills prohibiting the FCC from using any funds to permit LightSquared to build the network until concerns regarding GPS interference are addressed.
Montagner’s financial expertise will also be put to good use. LightSquared faces a myriad of financial issues ranging from a looming cash shortage to an SEC investigation of its parent, Harbinger Capital, and its CEO Phillip Falcone’s financial practices.
With a reported 11 lobbying firms pressing its case, LightSquared continues to assert, “LightSquared has had the legal and regulatory right to use its spectrum for eight years over two administrations. The testing further confirmed that the interference issues are not caused by LightSquared’s spectrum, but by GPS devices looking into spectrum that is licensed to LightSquared. We have taken extraordinary measures — and at extraordinary expense — to solve a problem that is not of our making. We continue to believe that LightSquared and GPS can coexist.”