FCC should move LightSquared network off the fast track — for now
I’m not much of an adventurer, or gambler for that matter. Never have been. You’ll never see me in Las Vegas at the tables throwing around big bills — dollar blackjack is exciting enough for me. Regarding the stock market, my investments are ultraconservative. And motorcycles scare me to death. I’m a huge believer in the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If one never gets on a motorcycle, one never will be in a motorcycle accident — an event that usually results in catastrophic injuries.
What got me thinking along these lines was contributing writer Lynnette Luna’s cover story in next month’s issue that examines LightSquared’s proposed mobile broadband offering that would operate in the L Band. At the heart of the article are the concerns of the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) sector, which also operates in the band, regarding the potential for harmful interference to their operations should LightSquared secure Federal Communications Commission approval to move forward, which seems to be on the fast track.
As Luna reports, both LightSquared and the FCC have vowed that such interference won’t occur. It could just be my conservative nature — or that I am a born cynic — but such a pledge strikes me as being analogous to assurances that one’s parachute has been packed properly. Talk about a leap of faith.
Like every federal agency, the FCC has had its share of hits and misses. The misses have a tendency to be doozies. Recall that there was a time that the commission believed that interleaving spectrum was a good idea. The result was the need to reconfigure the 800 MHz band, a project that has eaten up numerous years and several billion dollars — with the clock still ticking and the meter still clicking.
Would it be prudent to accept LightSquared’s and the FCC’s “hey, don’t worry about it” assurance? I think not. If LightSquared and the FCC are wrong, chaos would ensue, given the vital importance of GPS to the public-safety, transportation, maritime, aviation and enterprise sectors. This is not a trivial matter.
Nor is it a race. Rural America can wait just a bit longer to download hit movies at lightning speeds. It is far more important that the FCC move LightSquared off the fast track to protect critical GPS services that are far more important. My suggestion would be to deploy a trial network to prove what LightSquared and the FCC are claiming. Safe always is better than sorry.
What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.