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LightSquared's Latest LTE Plan: Share Federal Spectrum

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 7:23am
Maisie Ramsay

LightSquared wants the FCC to let it share spectrum with the federal government under a new plan for its LTE network, which has been stymied by problems with GPS interference.

The company proposed Friday to give up 10 MHz of spectrum located closest to the GPS band. Instead, it wants to pair 5 MHz of spectrum at 1675-1680 MHz currently used for government weather balloons with its existing 5 MHz of spectrum at 1670-1675.

"LightSquared seeks authority to use the 1675-1680 MHz band to provide a commercially-useable, terrestrial wireless broadband service as part of a contiguous 10 MHz downlink channel," the company said in its FCC application, arguing it is "uniquely suited" to use the band "in a manner that will protect the integrity of continuing, essential government operations."

It also asked the FCC to change the rules for its lower 10 MHz downlink L-Band spectrum from 1526-1536 MHz so that it could eventually use the licenses to add capacity to its LTE network.

The company suggested it lower its signal strength and work with users of adjacent bands to avoid interference, with its unused upper 10 MHz serving as a guard band for GPS receivers.

The company still wants to use 20 MHz of its L-Band spectrum. If the FCC clears its spectrum sharing proposal, it will have 30 MHz to use for its LTE network.

The FCC has yet to indicate whether it will move forward with LightSquared's proposal and could not be immediately reached for comment.

LightSquared has positioned its planned wholesale LTE network as a way to introduce competition into the U.S. wireless market, an objective shared by the FCC.

The commission granted LightSquared a waiver for its network in early 2011, only to stop the company from moving forward with its plans after tests showed the network would have a widespread impact on GPS service used by the military, aviation and other major industries.

LightSquared, backed by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, has since filed for bankruptcy. It spent about $4 billion on its network

Before the FCC blocked its deployment, LightSquared spent about $4 billion on its network and signed up a number of customers including Leap Wireless International and Best Buy.

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