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Ina Fried

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LightSquared Takes a Big Hit as Government Agency Calls GPS Interference Unavoidable

LightSquared was dealt yet another blow on Tuesday in its effort to build a wholesale 4G cellular network.

The NTIA, a federal agency that oversees government and military spectrum use, ruled on Tuesday that LightSquared will inevitably interfere with other devices, including GPS products, that use frequencies neighboring the spectrum licensed to the company.

As a result, the Federal Communications Commission said it was planning to revoke its conditional permission for LightSquared to operate and reject the application to operate the network.

“NTIA … has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time,” the FCC said in a statement. “Consequently, the commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared.”

The FCC, while hoping LightSquared might help with the ongoing spectrum crunch, has said all along that any commercial operations would be conditioned on being able to operate without interference to existing devices.

“The commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted,” the FCC said.

For its part, LightSquared maintained that the NTIA findings were based on flawed studies and said it “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 ongoing efforts to explore all engineering options and alternatives to find a solution to this difficult issue,” the company said.

LightSquared has asked the FCC to find that the interference is not its fault and allow it to proceed, though that argument appears to be having little sway.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work