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back to article Judge: Odds of bankrupt Lightsquared sorting itself out are 'zero'

Bankrupt wireless company LightSquared is hoping to submit a restructuring plan that its creditors can agree with by this Friday, although the judge in the bankruptcy case thinks it's unlikely the firm will get everybody on board. In a hearing yesterday, LightSquared's attorney said the company was aiming to file a …

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The problem with their spectrum was twofold

Firstly it was licensed for use by satellites, where any signal would be of a similar order of magnitude to GPS signals. Lightsquared wanted to use earth based base stations, which could and would swamp nearby GPS receivers.

Secondly it was rather close to the GPS band anyway. They tried things like promising not to use part of the bandwidth nearest to GPS for a number of years while GPS receivers with better signal rejection were developed, but improving that would reduce sensitivity. Not good for navigation.

All in all the basic concept was flawed.

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Meh

Re: The problem with their spectrum was twofold

All in all the basic concept was flawed.

I agree. And yet they still managed to get funding. There's a lesson here somewhere.

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Re: The problem with their spectrum was twofold

The fact they got funding for a concept with a missing go/no-go pin isn't surprising. You risk some money to be the first mover and the market tailoring opportunities that being a first mover gets you. That's normal.

What's surprising is the investors just hucking money at building an actual company and infrastructure before the situation with the missing pin was resolved. That isn't strategic, or smart or even reasonable. Why getting an OK from the FCC wasn't a monied milestone is just really, really, really odd.

This whole thing is better off dead. They did everything else as wrong as is possible. Their network would likely be the same way if it had actually gotten started.

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Re: The problem with their spectrum was twofold

They thought with their political connection that they could smooth any objection from FCC. Physic has a different story in store.

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Re: The problem with their spectrum was twofold

So is PLC*... and it's STILL not gone away. the difference being that one can jam a few shortwave listeners and Ham Radio operators and there's no political pushback. The White House liked it over here. Block 90 percent of GPS's? A rather different kettle of fish. FWIW, we Hams ((yes I'm one of those -- and an Electromagnetic Compatibility engineer as a result) were among those waving the red flag on both. It worked for this one, unlike PLC.

*US: BPL

Proposals like Lightsquared's are to be expected when one has the best government money can buy; Congress even overrules physics, which is what Lightsquared hoped it would do this time.

"I know the GPS says we're at the right place Jim, but isn't there suppose to be a RUNWAY down there? "

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It may have been close to the GPS band, but in their defence the GPS manufacturers were apparently a little lazy, and didn't keep within their band - hence the interference.

Feel sorry for this guys - fighting against goliaths, to provide something nice for the country.

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Boffin

The question of whether it was the "fault" of the GPS receivers and their "not so tight" filtering wasn't helped by the "litigation by press release" approach used by LightSquared, who repeatedly tried to imply that the GPS problems were due to existing equipment "abusing" LightSquared's part of the spectrum, as if they were transmitting into it, rather than merely being passive receivers.

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"provide something nice"

Nothing you don't already have and the concept was totally flawed and unworkable from the start.

The GPS makers ARE in their band and not lazy. If you are beside an AM BC transmitter even a professional radio might only get one station.

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Perfectly sharp band pass filters don't exist

You always get some leakage into nearby bands. This doesn't matter if your signal is of a similar strength to the transmitter on the nearby frequency, but if the other transmitter is a long way away and you are near your signal will overwhelm it. Putting extra filtering on the receiving end only helps so much, and at the same time reduces the sensitivity of the receiver.

Lightsquared knew the bandwidth was licences for satellite use when they bought it, but tried to bend FCC rules to use it from ground stations. Arguing that it was the fault of the GPS receivers was never going to fly as they would have worked perfectly well if Lightsquared were using the bandwidth as originally licensed.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear cs... I sincerely mean no offence, but the opinion you have expressed above is absolutely worthless.

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Mushroom

...but in their defence the GPS manufacturers were apparently a little lazy, and didn't keep within their band - hence the interference.

Not in the least true. The GPS manufacturers designed their receivers, knowing that on either side of the band being used, there were frequencies allocated for satellite downlink use. The signals in these bands would have been of a strength equal to, or more likely, lower than the desired GPS signal, and so the filters were designed for this case.

Now, along comes Lightsquared, with a proposal to use these frequencies, originally allocated to satellite downlink, for something else: terrestrial transmitters. These transmitters would emit signals many orders of magnitude stronger than the signals the GPS receivers were designed to filter out.

You can't blame the GPS manufacturers for designing according to the current band plan, with the expectation that the interference environment would remain the same. After all, that's why we have band plans in the first place: to prevent interference.

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Re: "provide something nice"

Sure, just a nice guy trying to provide something for the people.

Maybe next time he will buy up a load of dog food and apply to have it decared fit for human consuption.

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WTF???

"It may have been close to the GPS band, but in their defence the GPS manufacturers were apparently a little lazy, and didn't keep within their band - hence the interference.

Feel sorry for this guys - fighting against goliaths, to provide something nice for the country."

I wish I could downvote you a million times over. As it happens, I personally KNOW one or two of the senior executives involved in LightSquared, and "providing something nice for the country" was never part of it... They are men after their presumed millions, built by corrupting the political process to get around inconvenient (to them) laws and regulations that existed to protect the rest of us. And I mean that..an airliner that loses a firm GPS fix is an accident waiting to happen...for us. They are the part of the 1% that thinks they can piss on the rest of us, and get richer doing so.

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"in their defence the GPS manufacturers were apparently a little lazy, and didn't keep within their band - hence the interference"

That's a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. GPS is a weak signal that transmits *within* it's alloted band. The receivers have to be sensitive, so can't use very selective front-end filters. That's OK because the bands either side were *supposed* to be space to earth bands for other services, therefore they wouldn't interfere with GPS receivers. Now, along comes Lightsquared trying to bounce the FCC into allowing them to run earth-based transmitters in the adjacent band with *much* higher local signal levels. The GPS manufactuers worked within the parameters they were given, and it has become a supremely successful service on that basis. I don't see how you can fault them. It's all on Lightsquared's crazy business plan, which should have been strangled at birth.

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Re: WTF???

The technical and regulatory aspects of Lightsquared's plan were never the biggest challenges. Technology and regulatory issues can usually be resolved with money, research, leverage, influence or a combination of those things. There are issues those things can't resolve however. Regardless of how much money, power or political capital you have to toss around.

It is nearly impossible for anyone to withstand continuous assaults by everyone from militaries and apparel companies to equine vets and the petrochemical industry. Nearly every single sector of every single industry in every single market has integrated GPS into their operations. You've got hundreds, or thousands actually, of commercial interests coming at you simultaneously, but they're all coming from different directions.

Even if Lightsquared didn't actually cause any interference with GPS equipment those commercial interests have far too much to lose to risk it. If customers or employees of that company started doubting the accuracy of the GPS system it would cause a huge mess. It would be tough on law enforcement too.

Even if Lightsquared had gotten the FCC approval they would die the painful death of 100,000,000 law suits with each suit backed by a Congressperson of some sort. Legislation and regulatory approval are not the same thing as market participation. It was rather silly of them to ever believe that to be true.

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But

ALL receivers are affected by out of band signals. The GPS signal is a whisper compared to pneumatic drill of a Terrestrial Mobile Handset or Base station.

Why on earth did FCC not squash this from the beginning?

Of course we have stupidity like Homeplug / PLT networking and so called "White Space" using channels that are used somewhere else and the Database claims are OK where you are.

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Pint

Pirates Ahoy

From the FCC - GPS Manufacturers pirated ( used without permission ) the bandwidth allocated to Light Squared

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Re: Pirates Ahoy

Well done for demonstrating that you don't understand anything about how GPS or radio transmission works. Here's a simple hypothetical question for you : you are driving along listening to your car radio when your listening is interrupted by a signal from a taxi right next to you. Are you pirating the taxi's transmission or is the taxi at fault?

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