Sling Broadband has announced a postponement of a planned cooperative venture with the technology company LightSquared after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) halted licensing for LightSquared’s innovative satellite-enhanced broadband network due to possible broadcast spectrum interference with GPS devices.
In 2005, after extensive discussions with the GPS Council, the company that became LightSquared obtained a license from the FCC to build and operate a new communications network. The spectrum on which this new system was to operate was different from that approved for GPS systems. LightSquared and it its investors spent billions of dollars developing this groundbreaking technology which would offer 4G broadband on a wholesale basis through a network of new land-based wireless stations linked to the largest commercial satellite antenna ever launched.
Lightsquared services were scheduled to be operational in 2012; however, in technical testing it appeared that GPS signals overlapped into the broadcast spectrums reserved for LightSquared, causing interference with GPS performance. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) conducted its own tests—which LightSquared criticizes as being flawed—and concluded that at present there was no way to prevent the two systems from interfering with one another. As a result of this report, the FCC reluctantly suspended licensing of LightSquared’s new network.
LightSquared is not the only loser in this game. The construction, implementation and operation of this communications network was expected to create over 15,000 direct and indirect jobs annually through the year 2015. The project was poised to revolutionize the mobile Internet industry, providing more choices for consumers and helping to ease a spectrum shortage caused by the explosion of wireless devices.
So who are the winners in this story? Obviously, the companies providing GPS services are pleased with this outcome, along with the communications companies who would be competing against newcomers entering the market using LightSquared’s infrastructure.
LightSquared has not given up yet. A spokesperson states that the company “remains committed to finding a resolution with the federal government and the GPS industry to resolve all remaining concerns. LightSquared is confident that the parties will continue the on-going efforts to explore all engineering options and alternatives to find a solution to this difficult issue.”
Everyone from management to the salespeople and service technicians at Sling Broadband are disappointed in this setback in partnering with LightSquared on what would be a monumental leap forward in communications technology. For the present, they will wait to see the outcome of this debate and whether the technological issues can be overcome.
Sling Broadband is a privately held, Internet Service Provider based in Florida. In 2006, Sling Broadband began construction of its innovative network optimized for data transmission and since then has dynamically expanded to become one of the largest carriers of data traffic in North America. Sling Broadband provides service to over 30 major markets and interconnects with over 2,200 other networks across North America.