Everyone in the telecommunications industry has been bemoaning that we're fast running out of "spectrum" to carry all the mobile phone traffic. Yet the Federal Communications Commission has essentially squashed one very promising solution from LightSquared that would have provided additional voice and internet service using satellites and available to any/all interested carriers.
Yesterday, the FCC declared LightSquared's technology was "severely flawed" because it interferes with the GPS (global positioning satelllite) gear used widely by the military, aviation, construction and agricultural industries. (GPS for cars was evidentally not a concern.)
While never denying there were problems, LightSquared has countered that the interference between its assigned (and expensively purchased) frequencies and the adjacent GPS spectrum space is really GPS's problem, due to poor equipment design.
"GPS manufacturers have been selling devices that listen into frequencies outside of their assigned spectrum band - namely into LightSquared's licensed band," posted LightSquared excutive Jeff Carlisle on the company's blog.
Over the past few months, his company has offered to provide filters for existing GPS gear and even to alter its transmission scheme from satellites to a series of lower powered ground repeaters. But Carlisle believes the GPS industry has become "too big to fail" and used "years of insider relationships and massive lobbying dollars to make sure that they don't have to fix the problem they created."
The all-powerful argricultural industry - which uses GPS for automated harvesting - has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the LightSquared agenda.
So where does this leave the telecommunications industry that's begging for bandwidth? Don't be surprised if the FCC renews calls for over-the-air TV broadcasters to give up some of their precious signal space for a very big payday.