The final countdown…

Posted in Financials, LightSquared, Operators, Regulatory, Spectrum at 1:54 pm by timfarrar

In the wake of yesterday’s FCC Public Notice, it seems that LightSquared remains at least outwardly confident that it will receive an answer from the FCC about whether it can turn on its proposed network in “late December or early next year”, as it apparently suggested to the Wall St Journal yesterday. The reason for this timetable is that as I’ve previously noted, LightSquared needs to raise significant additional funding by the first quarter of 2012 at the latest.

However, the NTIA has indicated that it will only attempt to complete work on the cellular and personal/general navigation receivers by November 30, and that “given the open issues that remain with respect to precision and timing receivers, [other] work need not be completed by November 30″. The NTIA letter is also quite explicit that “there will later need to be a second phase of testing to evaluate proposed mitigation plans for high-precision and timing receivers”, so in other words the NTIA will not even begin to test these receivers until after November 30, assuming LightSquared can even manufacture a (non-prototype) filter by that time. I understand that the NTIA has set out this planned timetable because it does not expect to have sufficient resources to test both the cellular/general navigation receivers and the high-precision/timing receivers in parallel, regardless of when LightSquared provides the filter. Also its worth noting that it is far from a trivial matter to actually test the filter with the relevant precision equipment, because even if LightSquared could (in theory) produce some sort of in-line filter to attach to the antenna port of a device, there are many different devices to be addressed, and these will require a range of filtering approaches.

As a result, it looks like LightSquared’s newly mooted timetable for approval is about as plausible as their expectation on Monday that there will be “a resolution in the next month”. Thus I think we are really now in the final countdown before LightSquared will be “heading for Venus” (where presumably no-one needs GPS).

Meanwhile, I’m told Sprint is planning to be quite explicit about its Network Vision plans at the October 7 event, including which spectrum it plans to use for its LTE rollout, which clearly implies it is now focused on solutions other than LightSquared (or DISH for that matter). With Clearwire only being a useful solution for dense urban deployments, as I noted a couple of weeks ago, it appears that use of the SpectrumCo AWS-1 spectrum is the most plausible source of additional spectrum for Sprint’s wide area coverage plans, though it is by no means certain that Sprint will have a deal with the cable companies to announce by October 7.


  1. TMF Associates MSS blog » Coyote ugly… said,

    September 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    [...] interference came under fire from Republican members. However, it was certainly clear that as I noted yesterday, additional testing of filters for precision devices will not happen before November 30. [...]

  2. TMF Associates MSS blog » E ≠ mc²? said,

    September 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

    [...] funded “into 2012″, is that they will run out of money in the first quarter of 2012, as I indicated in my recent assessment, and that (as LightSquared also indicated) they cannot raise funding until the GPS issue is [...]

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