The Rural Cellular Association (RCA) and Cellular South are throwing their support behind LightSquared’s wholesale LTE plans as the company struggles to address major GPS interference issues.
The RCA and Cellular South joined 29 other tech companies yesterday in a letter asking FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to come up with a “win-win” solution for LightSquared and the GPS industry.
“It is imperative, and in the vital interest of the country, that the FCC create an environment where LightSquared and GPS can co-exist,” the companies wrote. “Indeed, crafting such a solution is consistent with the charter of the FCC, who defines its mission as promoting competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum.”
Cellular South plans to use LightSquared’s planned wholesale mobile broadband network to supplement its own LTE coverage under a bilateral roaming agreement signed by the two companies in April.
LightSquared’s wholesale LTE network also could be useful to other rural operators that want to deploy LTE but are limited by their 700 MHz spectrum holdings and a lack of interoperability in the band, which makes it impossible to roam onto the LTE networks being built by Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
If LightSquared is able to resolve the GPS interference issue, the FCC will allow it to go live with its wholesale LTE network, opening the door for carriers like Cellular South to provide nationwide LTE service to their customers.
In the letter to Genachowski, the companies argued it was incumbent upon the FCC to come up with a solution that would allow both GPS and LightSquared’s wholesale service to coexist in order to meet the goals of the National Broadband Plan, which aims to expand Americans’ access to high-speed Internet service.
“The combination of satellite and ground based services provides the only feasible way to offer meaningful, ubiquitous nationwide wireless communications, including to un-served and underserved rural communities across America,” the companies wrote.
If LightSquared resolves the GPS issue and is able to meet the FCC’s deadlines for deploying its network, the company’s hybrid satellite-terrestrial LTE network will cover 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015.
It is becoming increasingly unclear whether LightSquared will be able to pull off its ambitious plans to deploy a wholesale mobile broadband service in spectrum directly adjacent to airwaves used by GPS systems.
Recent reports indicate that LightSquared’s network, if allowed to go live in its present iteration, will have a widespread impact on GPS receivers, knocking out GPS systems used by the military, aviation industry and consumers.
LightSquared had previously said it would resolve the issue by installing filters on its transmitters, but those filters don’t appear to have mitigated the problem and the company is scrambling to come up with a solution.
Some in the GPS industry who say the issue cannot be resolved want LightSquared to deploy in spectrum farther away from the GPS band. The FCC has said it will not allow LightSquared to launch its network until it can guarantee its service won’t affect GPS.