LightSquared is bringing back telecommunications veteran Marc Montagner to serve as CFO, responsible for the company’s daily financial operations and investor and bondholder relations. Montagner, Lightsquared says, “will also leverage his experience as executive VP-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, 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...Preliminary analysis of the test results found no significant interference with cellular phones." However, it showed 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."
LightSquared faces significant opposition to its MSS ban 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.