LightSquared is Dead

FCC Revokes Waiver on Hybrid Network Spectrum

Obama’s latest dead duck crony venture, the GPS interfering company, has now lost it’s waiver. No GPS interference first.

The FCC has put a nail in the coffin for LightSquared, late yesterday stating they’d be revoking LightSquared’s spectrum waiver. The waiver on spectrum that would have been used for the hybrid satellite/LTE network was doled out just about a year ago, with the FCC saying they hoped the network would help increase competition. However, LightSquared’s technology was repeatedly shown to cause significant interference, and combined with a little political pressure on lawmakers from AT&T and Verizon (who for obvious reasons don’t want this network built), the result was a massive political firestorm.

What happens now? Last October LightSquared stated they’d sue the FCC if they backed away from the waiver, so the network now hits the court and runs a bureaucratic gauntlet. With LightSquared cash limited the fight will be difficult, and the 35 wholesale partners who have signed network sharing arrangements need a new plan (read: Sprint).

Last July, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja said he was so optimistic the FCC would approve the waiver that he wasn’t planning for any other outcome. Recently however, with unresolvable GPS issues, fading cash reserves and backer Phil Falcone facing several unrelated SEC inquiries, LightSquared had begun giving off a particular odor. It’s possible the plan survives this, but it’s very unlikely.

The full FCC statement:

LightSquared’s proposal to provide ground-based mobile service offered the potential to unleash new spectrum for mobile broadband and enhance competition. The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted. This is why the Conditional Waiver Order issued by the Commission’s International Bureau prohibited LightSquared from beginning commercial operations unless harmful interference issues were resolved.

NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time. Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared. The International Bureau of the Commission is proposing to (1) vacate the Conditional Waiver Order, and (2) suspend indefinitely LightSquared’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority to an extent consistent with the NTIA letter. A Public Notice seeking comment on NTIA’s conclusions and on these proposals will be released tomorrow.

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