“The villain of the piece.”

LightSquared and GPS: “The villain of the piece.”

The answer emerging from countless legal filings and Congressional hearings is that the government itself is the villain of the piece, the absence of collaboration between agencies allowing one to act without consulting the others. In bypassing its normal processes to expedite approval of LightSquared’s plan to use its mobile satellite service frequencies for a terrestrial broadband wireless network, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) left its fellow Defense and Transportation Departments, Homeland Security and others, scrambling to protect GPS signals on which they now depend.

Actually, saying the “government” is the villain is too vague. Let us name names, highlighted in bold below:

An independent agency, the FCC claimed to be acting in the public interest by boosting the Obama administration’s national broadband plan when it approved LightSquared’s proposal, but in bypassing the normal notice of proposed rulemaking step it short-circuited a technical process that would have addressed the GPS interference issue in an orderly matter. In the subsequent rush to perform tests, critics were quick to point out close personal and political links between President Barack Obama, FCC chairman Julian Genachowski and hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone, LightSquared’s majority owner.

“Substantial federal resources, including over $2 million from the FAA, have been expended and diverted from other programs in testing and analyzing LightSquared’s proposals,” John Porcari, deputy transportation secretary, testified to Congress on Feb. 8. “This level of investment in assisting a commercial applicant to achieve the successful approval of its government application is quite unusual,” he said. [emphasis mine]

Shall we put it more bluntly, as I like to do? Obama and Genachowski attempted to bypass the normal licensing procedures in order to help Falcone (who had given mucho contributions to Obama’s campaign war chest) and in the process wasted millions of taxpayer dollars while simultaneously threatening the operation of millions of GPS units used by the general public and the military.

LightSquared seeks an investigation into one of the GPS advisory board members that said their system interferes with GPS

LightSquared has announced that it is seeking an investigation into the GPS advisory board which said its system interferes with GPS.

On Thursday, the mobile broadband startup petitioned the Inspector General of NASA to investigate Bradford Parkinson, the vice chairman of a board that advises the government on GPS. Parkinson should be removed from discussions about potential interference between GPS and LightSquared’s proposed LTE (Long Term Evolution) network because he is also a director of GPS vendor Trimble Navigation, LightSquared said in its petition.

As lawyers say, when you’ve got the facts, pound the facts. When the facts are against you, pound the law. And when the law is against you, pound the table. Right now, LightSquared is pounding the law, as the technical results of the GPS investigation were quite clear: their system will interfere with most commercial and military GPS units.

That they went to the NASA Inspector General is instructive, since NASA has nothing to do with this issue.

Note that the law is also against LightSquared. I expect them to soon start pounding the table.

LightSquared actually disrupted 75% of the GPS receivers used during government testing

Actually, those tests weren’t so good after all: LightSquared’s broadband system actually disrupted 75% of the GPS receivers used during government testing.

Morrissey also notes these disturbing facts, considering the Obama administration’s strong support for Lightsquared:

  • The CEO of LightSquared has been a big Democratic Party contributor.
  • Barack Obama was an early investor in LightSquared.
  • The Obama administration has put pressure on military officials to change their opposition to Lightsquared.

LightSquared touts new tests prove its internet service will not interfere with GPS

In a press event today, LightSquared announced that just-completed tests prove that its internet service will not interfere with GPS.

According to the company, the three private companies — Javad GNSS, PCTel and Partron — that make GPS equipment have been testing interference solutions and those tests have gone well. “Preliminary results show that GPS devices tested in the lab easily surpass performance standards thanks to these newly developed solutions,” Ahuja said. “We are confident that this independent testing will mirror testing being done by the federal government.”

Here’s another perspective:

Jim Kirkland, vice president of Trimble and a founding member of The Coalition to Save Our GPS, is trying to slow LightSquared’s momentum. “It is obviously extremely premature to claim at this point that these latest tests demonstrate that LightSquared’s proposed repurposing of the mobile satellite band for terrestrial operations is ‘compatible’ with high-precision GPS,” Kirkland says in a statement. “Even if new equipment solutions are fully tested and verified, these existing high-precision receivers will have to be retrofitted or replaced. LightSquared still refuses to accept the financial responsibility for addressing interference to existing devices, and so has not offered a comprehensive solution in any way, shape, or form.”

Questions about White House pressure for campaign donor in GPS controversy

A four-star Air Force general told a congressional committee last week that the White House pressured him to soften his testimony concerning the military’s opposition to the technology being used by the broadband company Lightsquared– a major Democratic campaign donor — because it interfered with GPS signals.

In a related update, LightSquared boss said Wednesday that the company is near an engineering breakthrough that will solve the technical issues that worry GPS users.