Falcone Urges FCC to Help Solve LightSquared Interference Issue
Hedge fund billionaire Philip Falcone urged U.S. regulators to help resolve interference issues that have delayed government approval of his LightSquared Inc. wireless service.
Falcone and two LightSquared representatives met Jan. 4 with Federal Communications Commission staff and “emphasized the significant investment that has already been made in the LightSquared network,” according to a filing posted yesterday on the agency’s website.
LightSquared is seeking U.S. clearance after tests found its service may interfere with global-positioning system devices. LightSquared (SKYT) has developed technology that has “narrowed considerably” the scope of technical issues, Falcone and his associates told regulators during the meeting, according to the filing.
Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund is backing Reston, Virginia-based LightSquared with a $3 billion investment. Harbinger peaked at $26 billion in 2008 after a successful bet on the housing market and has slipped to $5.7 billion in assets.
Makers of navigation gear said the service’s powerful signals from 40,000 base stations would overwhelm faint emissions from satellites that feed GPS devices. U.S. officials said last month that LightSquared disrupts safety equipment that uses GPS to help keep airliners from crashing into the ground.
Sprint Nextel Corp. on Jan. 5 said it put its investment in a partnership with LightSquared on hold as the company seeks government clearance.
LightSquared says GPS devices improperly gather signals from its swath of airwaves. The company has proposed initially operating at reduced power levels, according to the filing.
“We discussed various alternative technical solutions that will effectively and economically allow GPS devices to work as intended, and still allow the deployment of the LightSquared network,” according to LightSquared’s filing, which was signed by Jeffrey Carlisle, the company’s executive vice president.
Present at last week’s meeting were FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus, Amy Levine, a special counsel and Paul de Sa, chief of the agency’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, according to the filing.
Terry Neal, a LightSquared spokesman, declined in an e-mail to elaborate on the filing.
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