LightSquared Hitches Hopes to Weather Balloons

The multibillion dollar satellite 4G LTE carrier has gone bankrupt, but hasn't given up.

by / October 1, 2012 0
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Plagued by technical issues, lawsuits and red tape since inception, wireless-network startup LightSquared is making one more push to save itself. Backed by American billionaire Philip Falcone, LightSquared proposed on Sept. 5 a spectrum sharing program that would allow the company to use the weather balloon band.

After months of finagling between the GPS industry and the carrier, LightSquared's original plans to operate a terrestrial- and satellite-based 4G LTE network were ultimately stopped by the Federal Communications Commission after GPS interference problems couldn't be solved. LightSquared has since declared bankruptcy, but the new plan would give the carrier 30 MHz of spectrum on which to operate, 10 MHz less than outlined in its original plans, and could breathe new life into the company.

The company proposed combining its 5 MHz satellite band (at 1670-1675 MHz) with the next band up (at 1675-1680 MHz), which is used for things like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's weather balloons. The plan proposes a sharing program that LightSquared said would not disrupt the government's current operations. The carrier also agreed to permanently give up the upper half of its terrestrial radio band, which had been the greatest cause of GPS interference.

If allowed to go forward with its network, LightSquared stated it would "immediately expand on its existing, multibillion-dollar investment to build a network that brings more competition, choice and access to hundreds of millions of Americans more quickly than any other potential new wireless network operator."