Advisory board: LightSquared can’t be fixed

posted at 9:11 am on January 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

If the Obama administration plans to use political pressure to rescue LightSquared and its owner, Democratic contributor Philip Falcone, they’d better act quickly.  The more of these reports that get published, the tougher it will be to explain away as anything but a political payoff (via William Amos):

A special board formed to advise the federal government on the clash between Global Positioning System receivers and LightSquared’s proposed cellular/satellite communications network has concluded there are “no practical solutions or mitigations” that would allow the two to coexist on adjacent segments of the radio spectrum.

The National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee, in a letter released this afternoon, said it had reached the “unanimous conclusion” that the LightSquared network would “cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers” as well as a GPS-powered ground-alert system overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Based upon this testing an analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time.”

LightSquared called foul, claiming that the panel included a non-government employee who works in the GPS industry.  That may be true, but it also has representatives from nine government agencies, including the Air Force and the Commerce Department.  The unanimous conclusion undermines the notion that some sort of untoward influence took place in creating this recommendation, as does the fact that the NTIA also concluded that “[n]o additional testing is required to confirm harmful interference exists.”

The ball now goes back to the FCC’s court, but they have a big problem.  The newly-signed National Defense Authorization Act created a legal restriction on the FCC to ensure that current GPS services remain free of interference, and have to report every 90 days for the next two years on that status.  With two governmental bodies reporting to the FCC that LSQ’s system substantially interferes with GPS systems in commercial, military, and aviation applications, there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network on the cheap.


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Good! This is not capitalism, it is despotic thuggery!

OldEnglish on January 14, 2012 at 9:16 AM

“Based upon this testing an analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time.”

Most projects get this type of analysis prior to getting the big government bucks and political endorsements. It’s almost like this administration doesn’t know what it’s doing.

Did they give the Obama Administration campaign money?/

hawkdriver on January 14, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Suck it, Falcone. Harbinger is an excellent short opportunity now, you filthy piece of sh@t.

MTLassen on January 14, 2012 at 9:18 AM

The GPS is not as important as the payoff for a loyal Obama supporter. Besides, the Russians have kinda-sorta-works-GPS and the Europeans are kind-of developing their own GPS-wannabe as are the Chinese. So who needs ours. Application approved. /sarc

clippermiami on January 14, 2012 at 9:18 AM

The newly-signed National Defense Authorization Act created a legal restriction on the FCC to ensure that current GPS services remain free of interference, and have to report every 90 days for the next two years on that status.

A random act of foresight.

Trouble is, the Regime doesn’t allow minor details, such as laws, to stand in their way.

petefrt on January 14, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Also, no wonder in the beginning they acted so tough. They needed a quick review to get them in business before it was too late.

I agree with OleEnglish. Thuggery.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM

there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network on the cheap.

Sure there is — another Obummer Executive Order! Oh wait, those usually aren’t legal either.

KS Rex on January 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM

But it will get approval anyway. This FCC is as corrupt as Holders DOJ. If Obama doesn’t make good on the bribes he got in 2008, the boodle won’t be there for 2012.

wildcat72 on January 14, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Light squared is a private company. All this attention being paid to it is an attack on capitalism!!! Romney said so just now.

abobo on January 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Maybe if we throw 1.2 TRILLION at this problem it will go away.

Whattaya say, congress?

JimboHoffa on January 14, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Light squared is a CRONY capitalist company. If not run by a Democrat hack it never would have gotten past initial review. Much less to the final approval stage.

wildcat72 on January 14, 2012 at 9:30 AM

No sensible private equity firm would have bought into this without seeing a viable proof of concept.

Falcone figured he didn’t need one as he had the Regime in his pocket.

Fail (one hopes).

CorporatePiggy on January 14, 2012 at 9:30 AM

hawkdriver on January 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Otherwise known as business as usual in the PBHO era.

MJBrutus on January 14, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Vulture Capitalism!

Go get ‘em, Rick!

Horace on January 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Check out the title of the article right under the main text above:

“Bombshell: General accused WH of pressuring him to change testimony for Democratic donor”

Sliminess can’t be hidden forever.

Dextrous on January 14, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The govt knew before they gave them our money that LS would be a problem for gps and they did it anyway, kinda like giving Solyndra our money and all the other green projects. They must think they have a way around this so that LS get more money to study this for a year or so. Meanwhile, the AT&T deal gets squashed and it costs them a bundle of stockholder money. Our community organizer in chief may be good at that but he don’t know jack or squat about business.

Kissmygrits on January 14, 2012 at 9:37 AM

there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off

You forgot what administrative we’re talking about.

FuzzyJJE on January 14, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Well there it is.

If the 0bama folks go ahead and overrule the government’s own board by allowing LightSquared to proceed, as they did with the Gulf drilling moratorium, then it’s an act of war against the entire world that depends upon GPS systems.

cane_loader on January 14, 2012 at 9:45 AM

there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network on the cheap.

So, where is the problem?
When has “legal” entered into Obama administration decision-making?
Moreover, won’t interference with GPS systems lead to the desired chaos, confusion, and societal breakdown so desired by Obama, and can’t it be blamed on the 1%?

GaltBlvnAtty on January 14, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Well there it is.

If the 0bama folks go ahead and overrule the government’s own board by allowing LightSquared to proceed, as they did with the Gulf drilling moratorium, then it’s an act of war against the entire world that depends upon GPS systems.

cane_loader on January 14, 2012 at 9:45 AM

And who does anything, when JugEars folks ALWAYS “overrule”?

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2012 at 9:50 AM

WE NEED ANOTHER CZAR!

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2012 at 9:52 AM

And who does anything, when JugEars folks ALWAYS “overrule”?

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2012 at 9:50 AM

I can’t imagine that even 0bama has the stones to mess with GPS.

After they found their way out of the swamps, he’d have an army of enraged hunters and fishermen at his door.

cane_loader on January 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

With all due respect, GPS was never designed for use by the public. Neither was the world wide web. That is why there are problems with collateral effects.

I do not believe for a second that the military uses public GPS to guide its functions. So that part, to me, is a complete sham. As far as interfering with public GPS goes, has anybody actually used one of those gadgets that tells you how to get there? A guy froze to death in Oregon last year because he trusted one of those in-car devices and it sent him on an old logging road during a snowstorm.

No, I’m not defending Jugears – just pointing out that the other side of the LightSquared mess is just as full of future fertilizer as the DoJ under weasel-face Holder.

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Sure there is — another Obummer Executive Order! Oh wait, those usually aren’t legal either.

KS Rex on January 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Isn’t there some sort of recess appointment that can be made here? I mean all he’s got to do is wait until the military is out of session for three days and bam instant approval.

Bunsin2 on January 14, 2012 at 10:01 AM

With two governmental bodies reporting to the FCC that LSQ’s system substantially interferes with GPS systems in commercial, military, and aviation applications, there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network on the cheap.

Let’s not let something as innocuous as a legal barrier get in the way of some palm greasing now…../

ted c on January 14, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I do not believe for a second that the military uses public GPS to guide its functions.

And you’re in luck. The public uses the GPS signal, while the military uses the DGPS signal. Both come from the same satellites. The DGPS signal has a much higher resolution than you can get with your Tom-Tom.

A guy froze to death in Oregon last year because he trusted one of those in-car devices and it sent him on an old logging road during a snowstorm.

He didn’t freeze to death.

Second, how stupid do you have to be to turn off a paved highway (where the snow plows are) onto a logging road during a snow storm with your family in the car? I submit the term “galactically” as an answer.

BobMbx on January 14, 2012 at 10:07 AM

After they found their way out of the swamps, he’d have an army of enraged hunters and fishermen at his door.

cane_loader on January 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Those enraged “clingers” have never influenced any of his decisions yet!

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I wonder if these ppl really think they are untouchable, there will be a change in administration, after which there will be investigations into a lot of the BS that these ppl a into.
“The One” had better make sure he gets enough judges in lifetime positions,because he’s gonna lots of help down the road. Let’s hope we have a law and order president in office by the time this come to a head, cause I don’t think ppl will be happy with a pardon of an ex president this time.

angrymike on January 14, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Ed Henry: What is the administration’s reaction to the conclusion that there are “no practical solutions or mitigations” that would allow the Global Positioning System receivers and LightSquared’s proposed cellular/satellite communications network to coexist on adjacent segments of the radio spectrum?

Jay Carney: Where did you hear that?

Ed Henry: The recently released report from the National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee.

Jay Carney: Report? That’s just silly. Let’s move on. Chuck, you’re next.

Flora Duh on January 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

No, I’m not defending Jugears – just pointing out that the other side of the LightSquared mess is just as full of future fertilizer as the DoJ under weasel-face Holder.

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Thanks. Your critique is very helpful and I think I finally understand this issue now: no matter what side you’re on in this debate you’re full of it and have no idea what you’re talking about.

Probably solved!

Rod on January 14, 2012 at 10:13 AM

I wonder if these ppl really think they are untouchable, there will be a change in administration, after which there will be investigations into a lot of the BS that these ppl a into.
“The One” had better make sure he gets enough judges in lifetime positions,because he’s gonna lots of help down the road. Let’s hope we have a law and order president in office by the time this come to a head, cause I don’t think ppl will be happy with a pardon of an ex president this time.

angrymike on January 14, 2012 at 10:09 AM

With all seriousness I expect that Obama, whenever he leaves office, be it in 2013 or 2017, will grant a pardon to everyone who has served in the executive branch during his administration, as well as to everyone who has made a contribution to one of his campaigns, based on his claim that: Whitey will track down all of those people and charge them with all sorts of wrongdoing, for the sole racist purpose of undoing all of the wonder accomplishments of Obama and to restore the country to the evil social position it was in before he became president and fixed everything.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 14, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Jay Carney: Report? That’s just silly. Let’s move on. Chuck, you’re next.

Flora Duh on January 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Bwahaha.

petefrt on January 14, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Just think of the stimulus effect of replacing all existing GPS receivers!

JoeHanson on January 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM

OT-
Oh Oh! GM may be pullin the plug on the VOLT…if they don’t sell more cars!
RESCUE! RESCUE!

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2012 at 10:19 AM

The newly-signed National Defense Authorization Act created a legal restriction on the FCC to ensure that current GPS services remain free of interference, and have to report every 90 days for the next two years on that status.

A random act of foresight.

Trouble is, the Regime doesn’t allow minor details, such as laws, to stand in their way.

petefrt on January 14, 2012 at 9:19 AM

So was requiring that Cordray be confirmed by the Senate before he could begin in his position; we saw how that worked out.

herm2416 on January 14, 2012 at 10:24 AM

You know, the more stories that come out like this, the more it makes me think that the Obama administration was never going to really attack Mitt in detail over Bain. That level of scrutiny would never stand up. What they were going to do was probably combine his flip-flops and portray him as Mr 1%. I think Perry and Newt went far beyond what Obama had in mind.

The most effective ad in my opinion was Newt’s (i think) where he showed all of Mitt’s gaffes back to back.

peachaeo on January 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Maybe the Regime can get them some spectrum that isn’t so close to the GPS frequencies for their friend to use. Maybe from a company that has conservative tendencies. Take the spectrum from them because it’s being “underutilized” – or whatever.

forest on January 14, 2012 at 10:28 AM

…“The One” had better make sure he gets enough judges in lifetime positions,because he’s gonna lots of help down the road. Let’s hope we have a law and order president in office by the time this come to a head, cause I don’t think ppl will be happy with a pardon of an ex president this time.

angrymike on January 14, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Naah. Last day of his sorry incompetent administration, hundreds of sealed pardons will be handed out to administration employees, to be used as necessary.

slickwillie2001 on January 14, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Take the spectrum from them because it’s being “underutilized” – or whatever.

forest on January 14, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Ah….the Imminent Domain clause.

“Mr. President, we can always fall back on Kelo vs. City of New London

Love,

E. Holder

BobMbx on January 14, 2012 at 10:35 AM

GaltBlvnAtty:
Ha, Ha, great point. Creating a new bad precedent which will go on forever. Press won’t criticize, of course, until a Republican follows suit (if one ever does!)

A.S.R. on January 14, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Maybe the Regime can get them some spectrum that isn’t so close to the GPS frequencies for their friend to use. Maybe from a company that has conservative tendencies. Take the spectrum from them because it’s being “underutilized” – or whatever.

forest on January 14, 2012 at 10:28 AM

You know it’s only fair

Bunsin2 on January 14, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Just think of the stimulus effect of replacing all existing GPS receivers!

JoeHanson on January 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Of course if we mandate that they all be solar powered… 2 birds with one stone.

Squirrel!

Bunsin2 on January 14, 2012 at 10:42 AM

It’s all too bad. I know a lot of people are crowing over a political ally of Obama getting the shaft. But consider that we really do need to open up more spectrum for newer communications protocols. The FCC really really needs to work on this issue. They keep talking about how they want control over the internet and they’re already mismanaging the airwaves which are their ACTUAL job. The bandwidth that was opened up by getting rid of traditional over the air television would be a good place to start here.

As to GPS… that’s a god damn nightmare. The problem is that GPS was designed and started at a time when we were sort of alone up there in space. Now everyone wants a system just like the GPS system. The Europeans are building one. The Russians sort of have one. And the Chinese are building one. Why are we doing this? This is silly.

Come up with some international standard system that all states can link into. Any GPS system… especially military systems should make use of ALL systems when trying to fix it’s position. By all means, give higher priority to the US sats if it makes you feel good but if two or three different systems all fix your position at the same point then it’s probably accurate. As to foreign countries making US of the US GPS system to target their missiles… there’s no point in securing the system to stop that. They’ll just shift to the european system or the Chinese system which won’t blink off like the US GPS system.

Look at what happened with that Drone we lost to the Iranians. That was 100 percent a GPS error. It was a weakness they exploited in our drone technology. It was brilliant and we’ve known about the vulnerability for a long time. We can’t afford to have weaknesses like that. If we send drones against Iran they could do that again… they could drop bombs in totally different locations and then never come home. The system needs to be battle-hardened. And in battle hardening it the rather mild interference from Four Squared won’t matter.

Anyway, I’m not saying any of this because I like four squared. The guy is clearly a little dirty and I don’t like his connection with the Obama administration. I just don’t trust it. But we do need LOTS of companies like four squared out there trying to provide improved wireless internet. It’s a good thing. Further, our GPS system is just too vulnerable to interference of any kind. The signal is too weak, seems to rely overly on a single bit of spectrum, and there is no authentication on it making it too easy for “man in the middle” attacks like the Iranian attack.

If we weren’t totally dependent on these systems for warfighting that would be one thing. But we are… our missiles don’t work without it. Our drones don’t work without it. We’re talking about using UAV supply helocopters which will depend on it… everything is going to depend on GPS working. IT CANNOT FAIL. And because that’s madness in military we really need to get better at some sort of backup system. Possibly a landmark system. Possibly a fleet beacon system where the base or ship transmits a homing signal. At the very least in an emergency this is important. And then you probably need some kind of accelerometer which can be used to calculate position crudely by keeping track of course, speed, and last known location.

All sorts of things need to be fixed. We rely on this stuff knowing where it is on the planet. We could lose a war if that suddenly failed or possibly blow up some random orphanages because the GPS information is wrong.

Karmashock on January 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM

The newly-signed National Defense Authorization Act created a legal restriction on the FCC to ensure that current GPS services remain free of interference….

What’s the problem?

The Obama Administration has appropriated the authority to deem when the Senate is in recess and when it is not, as it did on Dec 31, when Obama signed the tax cut extension bill passed by the Senate in pro forma session that day, and also recess-appointed Richard Cordray on the same day, Dec 31. See how that works? Senate in session, Senate in recess, depending on what Obama wants on a given day, he can have it both ways!

So, anyway, with his awesome new powers, Obama simply declares the Senate “in recess” on the date it passed the National Defense Authorization Act, thus voiding the Act (bills can only be passed with the legislature is in session).

Then the FCC can go ahead with whatever GPS system Obama and Philipe Falcone have worked out.

Remember how irritating everyone found the Clinton formulation: “stroke of the pen, law of the land”? Obama’s made it easier: “Whatever I say.”

de rigueur on January 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Look at what happened with that Drone we lost to the Iranians. That was 100 percent a GPS error.

Wow! Can you send me a copy of the final report, or at least provide a link?

BobMbx on January 14, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Look the bottomo line is this is a conflict between GPS which has nothing to replace it and Lightsquared which is just another telecom company like T-Mobile or AT&T.

We cant lose GPS and we dont need another Telecom. Its as easy as that.

William Amos on January 14, 2012 at 10:55 AM

de rigueur on January 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Obama deems Continental Congress powerless to convene Constitutional Convention, strikes down entire US Code.

BobMbx on January 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM

GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SansJeux on January 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Falcone owns 15-20% of the NY Times … objective reporting & all that. Along with their large DNC contributions the Falcone’s are maximum contributors to John Sununu.

batterup on January 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM

there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network on the cheap.

Looks like lots of folks here have the same opinion on this that I do. Urkel has never let the law stand in the way of getting what he wants done. Heaven knows that the House and Senate don’t have the huevos to call him out when he commits illegal acts as demonstrated by the continued permitorium in the Gulf.

AZfederalist on January 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Won’t the Angry Village Mob have a hard time marching to the White House with their torches and pitchforks if their GPS maps don’t work?

tmitsss on January 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Bummer. Just remember though, all the lying cheating and back rubbing that Light Squared’s owners and CEO’s are doing are totally morally neutral and above criticism, or you are attacking Capitalism itself!

astonerii on January 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM

With all due respect, GPS was never designed for use by the public. Neither was the world wide web. That is why there are problems with collateral effects.

I do not believe for a second that the military uses public GPS to guide its functions. So that part, to me, is a complete sham. As far as interfering with public GPS goes, has anybody actually used one of those gadgets that tells you how to get there? A guy froze to death in Oregon last year because he trusted one of those in-car devices and it sent him on an old logging road during a snowstorm.

No, I’m not defending Jugears – just pointing out that the other side of the LightSquared mess is just as full of future fertilizer as the DoJ under weasel-face Holder.

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

The military uses the same GPS signals that the public does, from the same net of satellites and on the same band of frequencies. The difference is that military hardware is built to decrypt the signals to make it accurate to within a far higher tolerance than public hardware is capable of. And even in that respect, there’s a lot less difference than there used to be. It wasn’t that long ago that the military authorized weakening the encryption in GPS signals to make civilian receivers far more accurate.

gryphon202 on January 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM

This is a head-slappingly obvious conclusion the advisory board reached. The technical requirement for the guard band was known when GPS was created, that’s why the FCC rules established the guard band in the first place. The only thing new is the Obama administration’s technical ignorance and the belief that they can force reality to conform with their plans for increased political power. The corruption of the FCC to reach political ends is just as bad as that of the Dept. of Justice, and it’s probably going on in all of the Government executive departments under Obama wherever political advantage can be obtained. It’s what Democrats do: Take a part of government that works and use that earned stature to their own advantage, destroying that part’s usefulness in the process.

The problem is that GPS was designed and started at a time when we were sort of alone up there in space. Now everyone wants a system just like the GPS system. The Europeans are building one. The Russians sort of have one. And the Chinese are building one. Why are we doing this? This is silly.

It’s not silly, it’s about tactical advantage on the battlefield. The US owns GPS and can turn it off if our enemy starts using it to control its own drones, missiles, bombs, etc., while out military continues to use its encrypted signals. Other countries want that capability, too, without having to worry about Uncle Sam leaving them lost in the dark, that’s why they’re putting up their own systems.

In reality, it’s not clear we really can make GPS go dark, there are too many commercial and government systems dependent on it, too many lives at stake if it was disabled. President Clinton’s discontinuation of GPS Selective Availability was a significant milestone in that progression.

Socratease on January 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM

With all due respect, GPS was never designed for use by the public. Neither was the world wide web. That is why there are problems with collateral effects.

With all due respect, you are 100% wrong on this. The GPS system was designed with two signals, one, the course acquisition signal was always intended for public access and was designed to provide 30m positioning accuracy. The second signal, the precise positioning service, is an encrypted signal that, after lock-on to the course acquisition signal, permits positioning to military-grade precision. The second signal is not available for public use. In addition, the system was designed to dither the time signal in order to prevent greater positioning capability from the course acquisition code.

I do not believe for a second that the military uses public GPS to guide its functions. So that part, to me, is a complete sham. As far as interfering with public GPS goes, has anybody actually used one of those gadgets that tells you how to get there? A guy froze to death in Oregon last year because he trusted one of those in-car devices and it sent him on an old logging road during a snowstorm.

You would be wrong on this account also. There is no difference between public and military GPS, only the access to the PPS signal changes a receiver from a civilian receiver to a military grade receiver. The publicly available course signal is used to lock on to the signals, then the precision positioning signal is decrypted for precise positioning.

You are also conflating the systems that combine mapping information with GPS position information in your anecdote regarding the guy lost in Oregon. GPS will tell one within 30 meters where you are (better if the position service you are subscribed to used differential GPS to improve accuracy — that was something not forseen by the system designers. Civilian accuracy can be improved by positioning a receiver at a known point on earth, then broadcasting correction signals to remove the dither errors from the course acquisition signal). The locating services have algorithms that combine your position with maps and attempt to provide route information. Sometimes the route information is ridiculously funny. That’s not a GPS error, but a mapping service error.

No, I’m not defending Jugears – just pointing out that the other side of the LightSquared mess is just as full of future fertilizer as the DoJ under weasel-face Holder.

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Umm, pretty much not really.

AZfederalist on January 14, 2012 at 11:35 AM

The only thing new is the Obama administration’s technical ignorance and the belief that they can force reality to conform with their plans for increased political power.

Nothing really new there either. Back in the late 70′s, early 80′s, the trucking lobby was successful in getting a Democrat owned, union controlled congress to re-write the laws of physics and civil engineering by increasing allowable load limits on semi trucks. The trucking lobby also got in on this as well, crony capitalism at its best, unions and business lobbying the government to alter the laws of physics. The claim then was that the weight restriction to prevent damage to roads and bridges was silly because 1000 (or something like that, it’s been 30 years, I don’t remember the exact number) cars going over a road would weigh the same as one truck and do the same amount of damage. On its face this is a ridiculous argument easily refuted. Take a feather and hit a window with it a million times, now hit the window once with a rock that weighs the same amount as that number of feathers. Guess what, there are physical properties of materials that allow one to stress them with no damage yet cause catastrophic damage when you exceed certain force limits. Despite the ridiculous argument, congress bought the argument and the law was passed. Gee, guess what’s happening to our roads and bridges much faster now?

AZfederalist on January 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Many, many thing were designed initially for military or NASA use that have been spun off into the civilian sector. Should they all be removed because they weren’t developed specifically for civilian applications? GPS is now in the civilian sector and has been for over a decade. Even with all its warts it is valuable to people and they’ve spent good money on acquiring it. I’ve had GPS based training aids as a runner for the last 10 years. It makes things easier when I travel not to miss my scheduled training. Could I do without it? Yes. Would I be ticked if it was rendered useless because of crony capitalism. You better believe it.

chemman on January 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM

herm2416 on January 14, 2012 at 10:24 AM

You’re right, laws don’t make much difference to the Obama people.

petefrt on January 14, 2012 at 11:54 AM

With all of this crap going on, what has happened to Issa and the F&F investigation? So much crap going on and there isn’t anyone with a pair who is going after them? Just WTH is going on in this country?!?!?

Mirimichi on January 14, 2012 at 11:56 AM

But, I thought the science was settled!?

MD11Fr8Dog on January 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Looks like lots of folks here have the same opinion on this that I do. Urkel has never let the law stand in the way of getting what he wants done. Heaven knows that the House and Senate don’t have the huevos to call him out when he commits illegal acts as demonstrated by the continued permitorium in the Gulf.

AZfederalist on January 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Starting the first week of this month, Emperor Hussein I declared himself omnipotent despot of the Empire of America. I don’t think there are any laws that he acknowledges that can stop him from anything!

And Genachowski’s FCC is just as corrupt, arbitrary, and lawless as Holder’s “social justice” department. The AT&T/Sprint merger, no go, without even a review. Lightsquared? Sure, why not? Doesn’t matter if it shuts down GPS and will cause planes to crash, there is CAMPAIGN BOODLE on the line!

Hell, I’d not be shocked if they re-allocated 540kHz-1700kHz to Lightsquared. I mean, those AM radios are based on a spec dating back to the 1930′s after all! They should be able to accept all that interference, right? And think of the stimulus if every AM receiver in existence had to be replaced, right?

Wouldn’t shock me, considering that AM is the only broadcasting medium that is dominated by conservatives.

wildcat72 on January 14, 2012 at 12:38 PM

wildcat72 on January 14, 2012 at 12:38 PM

They could allocate those frequencies to it, but I think they are too low frequency to accomplish the goal of 4g speed transmissions?

astonerii on January 14, 2012 at 12:45 PM

They could allocate those frequencies to it, but I think they are too low frequency to accomplish the goal of 4g speed transmissions?

astonerii on January 14, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Those frequencies are no less unsuitable than jamming a 4G service in a frequency allocation (that Lightsquared got on the cheap) that causes it to overlap with GPS, are they?

You do realize, of course that 540-1700kHz is the AM broadcast band right? The very thing the FCC was originally created to make sure there was no interference on?

wildcat72 on January 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Broadband wifi systems transmit at frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. This frequency is considerably higher than the frequencies used for cell phones, walkie-talkies and televisions. The higher frequency allows the signal to carry more data.
I tend to think that the AM bands just cannot carry enough info is what I was trying to say. Every second you get 540,000 to 1,600,000 waves, and they are trying to send more information per second than that.

astonerii on January 14, 2012 at 1:12 PM

A lot of the people on this site seem to be inferring that money and political influence would sway such a wonderful, upstanding young man like Obama.

Don’t you know that he is the bearer of hope and change and a Nobel Prize winner?

One would think, by your reckoning, that he won’t immediately cancel this project no matter what the consequences politically.

Yep, GPS is doomed.

Alferd Packer on January 14, 2012 at 1:17 PM

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

“With all due respect, GPS was never designed for use by the public.”

You are mistaken. Public access was always designed into GPS. From the beginning there were two access codes with coarse (100M) and precise (12M) accuracy. The precision code is designed to be encrypted and was known as the military code or channel. It is this precision code that has been made available, by law, to the public, but the less precise code was always intended for public access.

Besides, this is besides the point. Messing with a national asset used by so many critical civilian and military systems, in order to provide a cell phone service could only be a product of a corrupt administration.

STL_Vet on January 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

It does my heart good to think that physics trumps politics.

Besides, this is besides the point. Messing with a national asset used by so many critical civilian and military systems, in order to provide a cell phone service could only be a product of a corrupt administration.

STL_Vet on January 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Corrupt and/or ignorant. This demonstrates that not only does this administration not have anyone with direct private sector experience, they are also ignorant of the fact that physics cannot be bribed to work how you want. Somehow the fact that the Chicago crowd does not understand this relation does not surprise me.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 14, 2012 at 1:30 PM

platypus on January 14, 2012 at 9:56 AM

You’re wrong about the military using the same GPS (as BobMBx pointed out). They use the same satellites, and almost the same signal.

I think the real speed-bump for the administration in this was the involvement of the military. LS tried to short-circuit the system – and bully when they had to – to get this thing approved. They figured they had greased the right palms and it would sail through. But, since the military has a HUGE involvement with the GPS system, they had to put it through *their* bureaucracy. LS’s problem is that the folks in military procurement (and that’s who would have been involved in the testing: the same folks who approve weapon systems) have this dire fear of not crossing all the t’s and not dotting all the i’s – because if they don’t, and someone protests a decision, they might be out of a job, or even in jail (cf. the AF civilian who got 9 months in relation to the KC-X decision). These folks are ANAL. And, since they aren’t political appointees, they are more than willing to stand up in front of Congress and tell them the way it is (usually). The administration didn’t understand that, as evidenced by their attempt to pressure some generals into softening their objections.

GWB on January 14, 2012 at 1:37 PM

STL_Vet on January 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

And, I believe there is an even higher precision signal for military use, since the 12m signal was “opened” to the public. At any rate, the military can turn off the public access to the 12m signal on a moment’s notice.

GWB on January 14, 2012 at 1:42 PM

It’s obvious, Obama will approve Lightsquared, and issue an order calling for the installation of a filter on all existing GPS receivers at taxpayers expense. Pay no heed to all of that ex post facto crap.

mpk on January 14, 2012 at 1:45 PM

GPS bailout!

mpk on January 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM

mpk on January 14, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Filters don’t do anything to help co-channel interference, or critical frequency blocking.

This is a public infrastructure fight, coupled with deep-pocket commercial interests who would be financially murdered by the LS idiocy. This stuff never had a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being approved by OET (who, by the way, may not be overruled by the policy making arm of FCC, or the WH on technical rulings regarding harmful interference).

Talk of BO forcing this to go through is complete bullsh@t. It’s also a great lesson on watching people blow it out their a55 about areas of the law they have no clue about.

MTLassen on January 14, 2012 at 3:01 PM

The only thing new is the Obama administration’s technical ignorance and the belief that they can force reality to conform with their plans for increased political power.
Socratease on January 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM

I suspect the administration was ultimately depending on parroting the LS position that GPS was somehow squatting or eavesdropping on neighboring bands to ram this through in the name of “fairness”. Did this administration really expect people who know better to lay down and take it?

Wendya on January 14, 2012 at 3:14 PM

The newly-signed National Defense Authorization Act created a legal restriction on the FCC to ensure that current GPS services remain free of interference, and have to report every 90 days for the next two years on that status.

A random act of foresight.

Trouble is, the Regime doesn’t allow minor details, such as laws, to stand in their way.

petefrt on January 14, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Nor do they worry about old documents like the Constitution, even where said piece of parchment is clear.

Kevin K. on January 14, 2012 at 3:53 PM

there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network

Yeah. Like the law is an impediment to what FoO (Friends of Obama) want.

Physics Geek on January 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

I’m in Lightsquared’s corner on this. It bought spectrum from the Federal Government and is keeping its side-lobes inside said spectrum. One of the articles above talks about 75% of GPS receivers failing when subjected to Lightsquared-type signals.

Why not 100%? What did 25% of those devices do right?

If that spectrum was supposed to be a guard band, it should never have been sold. If it wasn’t, then why are so many GPS devices not filtering Lightsquared’s frequency allocation?

Either way, it’s going to be expensive for taxpayers.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

MTLassen on January 14, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Tongue in cheek on my part there Marconi, but thanks for the scold anyway.

mpk on January 14, 2012 at 4:39 PM

there is almost certainly no legal way that the FCC can sign off on Philip Falcone’s attempt to build a 4G network on the cheap.

Sure there is, you forget the awesome powers of King Obama and his magic pen.

GarandFan on January 14, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Where the hell are the redundant, screams of Corporate Corruption from MSM and Princess Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats. If this widespread chicanery had happened on a Republicans watch, they would be crying for impeachment…

Oracleforhire on January 14, 2012 at 5:45 PM

I’m in Lightsquared’s corner on this. It bought spectrum from the Federal Government and is keeping its side-lobes inside said spectrum. One of the articles above talks about 75% of GPS receivers failing when subjected to Lightsquared-type signals.

Why not 100%? What did 25% of those devices do right?

If that spectrum was supposed to be a guard band, it should never have been sold. If it wasn’t, then why are so many GPS devices not filtering Lightsquared’s frequency allocation?

Either way, it’s going to be expensive for taxpayers.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Not even close there Unc. First, that spectrum was deliberately allocated for satellite communications knowing that the nearby GPS sprectrum needed non-interfering signals in adjacent bands. This was a deliberate engineering decision. Second, Lightsquared bought or leased that spectrum knowing the purpose for which it was allocated. They chose to lease the spectrum first with the intent of greasing politician’s palms to change the allocation from its original purpose. This would be the equivalent to your neighbor buying land zoned for residential and then planning to bribe the local officials to allow him to put in a toxic waste processing plant. Sure, its his land, but he purchased it knowing the use to which it was allocated.

What are those 25% of receivers doing differently? They have much more expensive and larger filter systems with steeper out of band rolloff characteristics. That’s not practical for many devices and frankly shouldn’t be necessary since the whole spectrum was allocated specifically to prevent the need for such extreme design.

Turning your statement around, since that spectrum was allocated to be a guard band and had uses defined for it that were consistent with being a guard band. Lightsquared should have never purchased rights to it knowing that their intended use would destroy the purpose for which the guard band was established. Due diligence and all that. i.e, hire some engineers instead of freakin’ lawyers.

AZfederalist on January 14, 2012 at 6:10 PM

I’m in Lightsquared’s corner on this.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Not me. I hope they and all their investors loose their shirts over this. LighSquared leased a band on the cheap that was designated for satellite transmissions. It was cheap because it has limited uses. They attempted to do an end run with a compliant FCC and get accelerated approval to blast terrestrial based signals in a SatCom band. They then rolled out a big PR campaign lying about the leased band and trying to claim GPS was “infringing on their rights”. Now they’re going to try for a spectrum swap that will gain them billions in profit. They need the rug pulled out from under them as a message to other rent seekers and crony capitalists who try to game the system at the expense of the taxpayers.

Wendya on January 14, 2012 at 6:25 PM

I remember at the beginning of the Obama administration when the junior WH flunky remarked to something being said in the discussions over the auto industry – we need you to sell 100 mpg cars. The response was
‘this is against the law of physics’. His response: Where are these laws, we’re in charge now, we can change all the laws.

We’ve put idiot children in charge for the past 3 years.

Jimmy Doolittle on January 14, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Where’s bing, or whatever his name is?

itsspideyman on January 14, 2012 at 8:37 PM

First, that spectrum was deliberately allocated for satellite communications knowing that the nearby GPS sprectrum [sic] needed non-interfering signals in adjacent bands.

What are those 25% of receivers doing differently? They have much more expensive and larger filter systems with steeper out of band rolloff characteristics.

AZfederalist on January 14, 2012 at 6:10 PM

This is an interesting webpage: http://www.pnt.gov/interference/lightsquared/

It’s the primary source one, with the report recommending that Lightspeed not commence operations.

http://www.gps.gov/multimedia/presentations/2011/03/munich/hegarty.pdf

Here’s the one with a nifty graphic which illustrates your concerns.

If I get what these people are saying right, the inadequate filtering in current consumer grade GPS devices, coupled with the strength of the Lightsquared terrestrial signal, combine to create the problem.

Now, here’s Lightspeed’s claim:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/from-lightsquared-gps-industrys-failure-to-comply-with-department-of-defense-and-international-standards-for-gps-receivers-cause-of-interference-127539903.html

If I get Lightsquared’s argument right, the DOD receiver standards define the guard band as extending 4Mhz to each side of each frequency (Lx) for GPS transmission. The frequency of particular concern is L1, and the testing showed that nearly all GPS receivers showed problems when adjacent to a Lightsquared base station operating at 1/10th of its FCC-allowed power. The GPS community is therefore asking for a 39Mhz guard band — because even using the portion of the band furthest away from the L1 frequency at 1/10th power caused unacceptable interference.

The NPNT report indicates that the problem could indeed be mitigated by building stronger filtering into GPS devices — in fact, they indicate a next-gen GPS capability which will require such filtering.

Now, from my standpoint, an application using one frequency and demanding a 50Mhz guard band (where the DOD itself required equipment to implement a 4Mhz guard band) just seems sloppy. After all, Glonass is operating in the frequency right next door, and hence it becomes unbelievably easy for the Russians to similarly jam our GPS system merely by increasing the power of Glonass transmissions.

It’s what we have to live with, and I know that Lightspeed won’t be allowed to operate. Certainly, Lightspeed now has an actionable claim against the Government — and the Hagerty pdf has a timeline which indicates that this is all the fault of the Obama Administration.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Certainly, Lightspeed now has an actionable claim against the Government.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2012 at 8:40 PM

They received a lease for a specific portion of the spectrum that comes with certain restrictions built in. They have no legal right to change the usage requirements. They have no legal standing to demand that their (relatively) cheap spectrum be retasked to make it worth billions more. They gambled on Obama and they lost.

Wendya on January 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM

Wendya on January 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM

The lease came with no guardband requirements, and no statement that only low power transmissions could be made, and certainly no requirement that satcom be the only use — in fact, the single FCC restriction I’ve found requires that the handset used for comms have both a satellite and a terrestrial component. Lightspeed’s handset meets the letter of that requirement.

From what I can see, new restrictions are being created and applied post-lease, and that’s why I see Lightspeed as having a valid reason for a claim against the Government. The only mitigation the Government might have is if it can be shown that Lightspeed bribed someone to sell them the frequencies or lied to the FCC about how they would use the frequencies.

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2012 at 1:28 AM

Won’t the Angry Village Mob have a hard time marching to the White House with their torches and pitchforks if their GPS maps don’t work?

tmitsss on January 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

No GPS needed. They’ll just march toward the stench.

TheClearRiver on January 15, 2012 at 8:33 AM

From what I can see, new restrictions are being created and applied post-lease, and that’s why I see Lightspeed as having a valid reason for a claim against the Government. The only mitigation the Government might have is if it can be shown that Lightspeed bribed someone to sell them the frequencies or lied to the FCC about how they would use the frequencies.

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2012 at 1:28 AM

While they might have a valid reason, this should be overridden for reasons of national security. To put the defense of the country at risk over an oversight would be against the mission of the constitution to “provide for the common defense”.

itsspideyman on January 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

blink on January 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM

You’re in a delusional hole …. and still you dig deeper.

Give it up: Miniaturization has absolutely nothing to do with the subject. You are both factually wrong and technically preposterous. And the comments in this thread which are completely inaccurate tend to be signed “blink”

landlines on January 15, 2012 at 3:23 PM

While they might have a valid reason, this should be overridden for reasons of national security. To put the defense of the country at risk over an oversight would be against the mission of the constitution to “provide for the common defense”.

itsspideyman on January 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Agreed. But I doubt it’s the defense of the nation which is driving this. I’m betting that the 25% of equipment which isn’t affected by Lightspeed’s signal are those pieces built to the DOD specifications of a 4Mhz guard band. The problem is commercial equipment built to a lower standard.

Nobody anticipated this, and it’s now a fight between Lightspeed and Garmin, Magellan, etc.

I expect the Garmin side to win by posession, but it will win by having taken that which was not its to take.

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2012 at 3:29 PM

The lease came with no guardband requirements, and no statement that only low power transmissions could be made, and certainly no requirement that satcom be the only use — in fact, the single FCC restriction I’ve found requires that the handset used for comms have both a satellite and a terrestrial component. Lightspeed’s handset meets the letter of that requirement.

From what I can see, new restrictions are being created and applied post-lease, and that’s why I see Lightspeed as having a valid reason for a claim against the Government.

That is absolutely, factually untrue. Every single lease comes with restrictions. Our system of spectrum allocation wouldn’t work if you could do whatever you want using whatever power levels you want across every band. If LightSquared had the right to build out a broadband terrestrial network in the MSS band, they would not have been required to petition the FCC for a conditional waiver. Federal regulations prohibit MSS/ATC operations from causing harmful interference, a condition that obviously has not been met.

Wendya on January 15, 2012 at 3:44 PM

This isn’t true. You obviously don’t know anything about the origins of this situation.

blink on January 16, 2012 at 1:24 PM

I understand that LS leased a portion of the spectrum allocated for satellite transmissions at relatively low power and decided they could make billions by petitioning the FCC to allow terrestrial transmissions at much higher powers. The FCC, in a moment of sheer stupidity, granted the waiver on the condition that LS did not interfere with GPS. The waiver requires nothing of GPS, the responsibility falls entirely on LS and they have failed every single test. Since they have not and cannot meet the conditions of the waiver, they cannot operate their network.

That’s the situation.

Wendya on January 17, 2012 at 6:44 PM