LightSquared: Interference Testing Data Leaked to Damage Reputation

LightSquared has complained to the Departments of Defense and the FAA over the leak of testing data on the impact of its proposed national wireless broadband service on GPS receivers, accusing the leaker of trying to "damage LightSquared's reputation, spread false information in the marketplace, and prejudice public opinion against LightSquared before a full and complete analysis of the testing results had been presented."

According to a story reported by Bloomberg's Todd Shields, those tests, which are currently being vetted by the National Telecommunications & Information in preparations for recommendations to the FCC, showed that 75% of GPS devices could suffer some interference.

NTIA plans to use the testing data to make a recommendation to the FCC about whether or not to lift its current hold on the service.

Its waiver to LightSquared to use satellite spectrum to offer terrestrial service is conditioned on it passing those tests.

"Based on our review of Bloomberg News' reporting, the leak was based on an incomplete, selective, and slanted analysis of the data of the testing of general location/navigation devices," said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and CEO of LightSquared. "In its report, Bloomberg News reported that 75% of these devices tested may experience interference with LightSquared's network. Based on our own review of the test data, we profoundly disagree with that conclusion. To achieve that level of threshold of failure, the leaked internal analysis assumes that the power levels of LightSquared networks are 32 times greater than the power levels at which LightSquared will actually operate."

An NTIA spokeswoman told B&C/Multi that any conclusions from the test will vary "depending on factors such as LightSquared's power levels and other technical variables."

He wants an investigation into the leak, which he said "creates serious doubts about the fairness and integrity of the entire process," and also wants a public statement that the information leaked was "preliminary, incomplete, and did not represent the full findings from the test results."

So far, the tests have been of cellphone and personal GPS devices, which were due to NTIA by Nov. 30, according to a spokeswoman, who said NTIA's role was to be an "honest broker of data." The second round of testing of those precision devices has not happened yet and will require fitting them with the filters LightSquared and others say will resolve the interference issues.

The testing, in which LightSquared participated, was requested by NTIA back in September.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.