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LightSquared: PNT EXCOM’s Decision to Support GPS Industry and Halt Testing on High-Precision Devices Undermines Confidence and Highlights Conflict of Interest


January 13, 2012


LightSquared™ is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to retake the lead on government testing for GPS filtering solutions after a series of actions by federal agencies have demonstrated bias and inappropriate collusion with the private sector as reported by numerous media outlets.


The request follows a systematic disregard for fairness and transparency by the National Executive Committee (EXCOM) and Advisory Board for the Space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT). The PNT EXCOM is a government panel established to “advise and coordinate federal departments and agencies on matters concerning the global positioning system (GPS) and related systems.” A panel of non-governmental officials known as the PNT Advisory Board provides guidance to the PNT EXCOM. Members of the PNT Advisory Board have deep ties with the same GPS manufacturers who have sold poorly designed equipment to America’s farmers, public safety officials, military and government agencies.


By abandoning its commitment to test filter solutions for high-precision GPS devices, the PNT EXCOM and PNT Advisory Board have put personal and private sector interests ahead of their public responsibilities. The filters in question have been proven in third-party tests to correct the faulty designs of high-precision GPS equipment and eliminate issues related to interference. Government tests are essential to proving the effectiveness of these filters, but could also mean the manufacturers of these devices will be required to replace millions of dollars in faulty equipment.


On Wednesday, LightSquared filed a complaint with the NASA Investigator General’s office regarding conflicts of interest on the PNT Advisory Board. As a director of Trimble, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board, Dr. Brad Parkinson had a professional duty to his company to protect its market position and its increased shareholder value that directly contradicts his responsibility to provide impartial advice to the government.


Government testing has become unfair and shrouded from the public eye. Under an agreement worked out directly between representatives of Trimble – the same company that has paid for a year-long lobbying campaign against LightSquared’s network – LightSquared was specifically excluded from the testing process. The devices selected as part of the most recent round of testing include numerous obsolete and off-market GPS receivers that nearly guaranteed failure. Power levels used for testing were 32 times that of real-world conditions further stacking the deck in favor of GPS industry interests.


In retrospect, it was highly unlikely that PNT EXCOM, the Advisory Board and the testing they oversaw would ever be able to deliver on their obligation to provide a fair and unbiased assessment. Its membership simply has too much at stake.


LightSquared today urges the government, under the leadership of the FCC and NTIA to recommit to a fair and transparent process. Test results must be re-evaluated by unbiased officials and engineers. Testing must proceed in cooperation with all parties – LightSquared, government end-users, and GPS manufacturers – to ensure effective and appropriate guidelines are in place.


LightSquared intends to protect its legal rights in order to ensure that fairness, transparency and the rule of law are guiding the testing process.


LightSquared also intends to ensure that the government ultimately delivers on its obligation to provide a fair and transparent process to evaluate the technological solutions to the GPS interference issue. LightSquared has faith that, in the end, a fair process will prove that the technological solutions it has put forward will clear the way for hundreds of millions of Americans to get the wireless broadband competition they crave.