Cheatz

This is getting interesting.  After the recent news that federal testing determined LightSquared's LTE network plans would never work without interfering with GPS (and a cease to any further testing) LightSquared has come back with guns blazing.  In a statement, the company has accused the GPS industry of rigging the results by using antiquated equipment, shrouding the entire process in secrecy, and using unrealistic parameters for failure.  Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared’s Executive Vice President of regulatory affairs and public policy, Geoff Stearn, LightSquared’s Vice President for spectrum development, and Edmond Thomas, former chief engineer at the FCC held a press conference and had the following to say:

Testing was shrouded in secrecy, no transparency. The GPS manufacturers cherry-picked the devices in secret without any independent oversight authority in place or input from LightSquared. The GPS manufacturers and the government end users put non-disclosure agreements in place for the PNT EXCOM’s tests, preventing any input by an independent authority or from LightSquared before the tests began. This secrecy made it impossible for independent experts to properly oversee or challenge the process and results, thereby leaving taxpayers who paid for the testing no option but to take the PNT EXCOM’s word for it.
The testing protocol deliberately focused on obsolete and niche market devices that were least able to withstand potential interference. When LightSquared finally obtained a list of the devices tested, after all testing in this first phase of tests had been completed, it was able to determine that the testing included many discontinued or niche market devices with poor filters or no filters. The units tested represent less than one percent of the contemporary universe of GPS devices. In fact, the only mass market device alleged to “fail” during this round of testing performed flawlessly during the Technical Working Group testing, which used best practice protocols agreed to by all parties, thus raising doubts about the integrity of PNT EXCOM’s process.
The testing standard does not reflect reality. To guarantee favorable results, the PNT EXCOM selected an extremely conservative definition of failure – one dB of interference. Independent experts agree that a one dB threshold can only be detected in laboratory settings and has no impact on GPS positional accuracy or user experience. In fact, GPS devices are designed with the ability to withstand eight dB or more of loss of sensitivity due to man-caused and natural interference. By setting the definition of interference at one dB, the testing was rigged to ensure that most receivers would fail. It should be noted that PNT EXCOM and others have justified the one dB threshold by citing an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard. However, that standard explicitly states that it does not apply to general purpose GPS receivers.

They go on to say other great quotables like asking reporters to enquire if it's "fair that taxpayers funded a testing regime they cannot review?" and speaking of violating "conflict of interest" laws.  They are serious, and should be.  Earlier this month, LightSquared was given just 30 days to get regulatory approval by Sprint, who is a heavy investor and has (had?) plans to use LightSquared's service for their nationwide LTE roll-out.  Losing funding from Sprint would be a major financial blow to LightSquared.  We're pretty certain Sprint will still be able to roll out their LTE network as planned, but they see an advantage in using LightSquared and would like to see everything resolved as well.

Were the testing procedures rigged? Will LightSquared get another shot with different testing procedures? Will Sprint continue to invest in the company?  Join us next week for another episode of the Guiding LightSquared.  See the press release after the break.

Former FCC Chief Engineer and LightSquared Question Validity of Test Results Rigged by GPS Industry Insiders

After learning that some devices tested have been out of production for over a decade, the parties call on NTIA to objectively audit testing and apply proposed mitigation standards

RESTON, Va., January 18, 2012 - LightSquared said today that the process used to test GPS devices by Air Force Space Command on behalf of the Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee (PNT EXCOM) was rigged by manufacturers of GPS receivers and government end users to produce bogus results, and revealed details of the testing to document its accusations.

PNT EXCOM advises and coordinates among U.S. government agencies on GPS matters and is comprised of representatives from those agencies with GPS expertise.

LightSquared has called on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to objectively re-evaluate this initial round of testing and also to evaluate mitigation proposals the company has proposed.

Additionally, the company has called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the NTIA to conduct the second round of tests on high-precision devices at an independent laboratory to ensure objectivity and transparency.

In a call with reporters, Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared’s Executive Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy; and Geoff Stearn, LightSquared’s Vice President for Spectrum Development; outlined how GPS industry insiders and government end users manipulated the latest round of tests to generate biased results. Also on the call was Edmond Thomas, former chief engineer at the FCC who explained how fair and accurate testing should be conducted.

  1. Testing was shrouded in secrecy, no transparency. The GPS manufacturers cherry-picked the devices in secret without any independent oversight authority in place or input from LightSquared. The GPS manufacturers and the government end users put non-disclosure agreements in place for the PNT EXCOM’s tests, preventing any input by an independent authority or from LightSquared before the tests began. This secrecy made it impossible for independent experts to properly oversee or challenge the process and results, thereby leaving taxpayers who paid for the testing no option but to take the PNT EXCOM’s word for it.
  2. The testing protocol deliberately focused on obsolete and niche market devices that were least able to withstand potential interference. When LightSquared finally obtained a list of the devices tested, after all testing in this first phase of tests had been completed, it was able to determine that the testing included many discontinued or niche market devices with poor filters or no filters. The units tested represent less than one percent of the contemporary universe of GPS devices. In fact, the only mass market device alleged to “fail” during this round of testing performed flawlessly during the Technical Working Group testing, which used best practice protocols agreed to by all parties, thus raising doubts about the integrity of PNT EXCOM’s process.
  3. The testing standard does not reflect reality. To guarantee favorable results, the PNT EXCOM selected an extremely conservative definition of failure – one dB of interference. Independent experts agree that a one dB threshold can only be detected in laboratory settings and has no impact on GPS positional accuracy or user experience. In fact, GPS devices are designed with the ability to withstand eight dB or more of loss of sensitivity due to man-caused and natural interference. By setting the definition of interference at one dB, the testing was rigged to ensure that most receivers would fail. It should be noted that PNT EXCOM and others have justified the one dB threshold by citing an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard. However, that standard explicitly states that it does not apply to general purpose GPS receivers.

GPS and government end users should have opened the process for transparent review, chosen a representative sample of devices that reflect the scope of general purpose GPS receivers in the marketplace today, applied best practice standards to the testing protocol, and – most importantly, the tests should have been conducted by an independent laboratory rather than by the GPS manufacturers themselves, since they had a large incentive to ensure that the tested receivers would not pass the testing.

LightSquared recommends that reporters consider asking PNT EXCOM the following questions to ensure accountability:

  • Why did the government choose to ignore LightSquared’s proposed power levels?
  • Why did the government choose a power level 32 times greater than the level at which LightSquared will operate?
  • Why did the test protocol select the 1dB degradation to noise as the interference standard, since it does not apply to general purpose GPS receivers and GPS units are typically designed with an 8dB level of tolerance?
  • Who determined what acceptable interference is for the current round of testing? What is that standard?
  • Why was the testing conducted using outdated/discontinued devices rather than a representative sample of what is currently in the market?
  • Isn’t it a violation of conflict of interest laws for representatives of GPS manufacturers to sit on the PNT advisory board and play a central role in its consideration of LightSquared when those companies are actively lobbying on the same issue?
  • Is it fair that taxpayers funded a testing regime they cannot review?

LightSquared has agreed to meet every technical guideline requested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), FCC and NTIA and will continue to work in collaboration with the federal government to resolve the GPS interference issues. The secretive behavior of the PNT EXCOM indicates a co-opted process. The inappropriate influence of the private sector on their decision-making has been brought to the attention of NASA’s Inspector General in a separate conflict of interest complaint filed by LightSquared.

LightSquared is asking for fair and transparent oversight of the testing process by the FCC and NTIA, much like the agencies provided in the first round of testing that was openly agreed to by all parties. Transparency is the only way taxpayers can be assured that the testing process is not manipulated to benefit one particular set of self interests. LightSquared is confident that a fair process will allow the company to move forward with its plan to deliver wireless broadband to hundreds of millions of consumers.

LightSquared’s mission is to revolutionize the U.S. wireless industry. With the creation of the first-ever, wholesale-only nationwide 4G-LTE network integrated with satellite coverage, LightSquared offers people the speed, value and reliability of universal connectivity, wherever they are in the United States. As a wholesale-only operator, LightSquared will deploy an open 4G wireless broadband network to be used by existing and new service providers to sell their own devices, applications and services – at a competitive cost and without retail competition from LightSquared. The deployment and operation of LightSquared’s network represent more than $14 billion of private investment over the next eight years. For more information about LightSquared, please go to www.LightSquared.comwww.facebook.com/LightSquared andwww.twitter.com/LightSquared.

 
There are 24 comments

xemtra says:

good to see both sides of the isle on this.

foxbat121 says:

LightSquared should change its name to LightScrewed. There is zero chance it will survive this. They simply don't know how to play the game in Washington. They have a lot to learn from movie studios and recording labels with regarding to SOPA and PIPA. I have yet to see one congressman speaking out for LS.

Too late for them.

Croak#AC says:

LightSquared wouldn't have even gotten THIS far if they weren't seriously connected to the Obama administration. No rep is going to speak out for something that creates a little new industry and a little extra bandwidth by destroying the functionality of an existing industry that happens to be VITAL for both government and civilian usage.

LightSquare fucks up GPS. It fucks up GPS bad. To make it so that it doesn't fuck up GPS, you'd need everyone with a current GPS receiver to purchase a new one or install a filter. That's every car, that's every handheld, that's every phone, that's every tractor, that's every train, that's every aircraft, that's every boat that could ever expect to use GPS in North America that would have to upgrade equipment.

Not going to happen, and no need for it to happen.

ilaifire says:

Where is your evidence? Is it the report the FCC published? The one that LS is claiming is biased? If so, I'd say the concerns LS brings up about those studies are quiet legitimate. Now, if these tests could be redone with input from both sides, and "modern" devices were chosen and the definition of "failure" was more inline with actual definitions, then I'd be ready to beleive the results.

I operated mapping grade gps with Zephyr and hurricane antennas depending upon needs of the client. I can say the time of day has more to do with the accuracy than terrestrial interference could ever have. I would take a 40 snr 15 degree over a 5db snr line any day. And if you start talking H-star positioning then we are on a whole new plane. (pardon the gps pun.)

Basically I'm saying that your emotional big government opinions have no place in a technical debate. Sorry to post under you but you were the first. It isn't personal.

I operated mapping grade gps with Zephyr and hurricane antennas depending upon needs of the client. I can say the time of day has more to do with the accuracy than terrestrial interference could ever have. I would take a 40 snr 15 degree over a 5db snr line any day. And if you start talking H-star positioning then we are on a whole new plane. (pardon the gps pun.)

Basically I'm saying that your emotional big government opinions have no place in a technical debate. Sorry to post under you but you were the first. It isn't personal.

ilogik says:

GPS receivers are passive devices not generating any signal. The signal comes from department of defense satellites which have been in place way before the inception of lightsquared. When lightsqaured applied for a license for the frequencies they use why did the FCC grant it? Sounds like the government dropped the ball.

foxbat121 says:

Agreed. The real story is LS is not the original owner of the spectrum. They bought it second hand. The original use of the spectrum is for satellite communications only. LS got its conditional approval of repurpose the spectrum from FCC.

In the best case scenario, LS could get a spectrum swap from FCC. But from the way LS is doing right now, it probably will never happen.

mputtr says:

you're missing part of the real story as well.
they were given approval for repurpose provided that it does not interfere with GPS signals. That spectrum was meant for space to land not land to land communication. They knew it but they ignored it.

Unibrow says:

the spectrum they purchased, wasn't it intended for Satellite communications whereas they are trying to utilize it for terrestrial communications? Wasn't it cheaper as a result?

I've read this several times and it just sounds like Lightsquared is trying to utilize spectrum for purposes not originally intended by the FCC. I'm sure lobbying has a LOT to do with it as well but just find it interesting.

RETG says:

Don't know how to play the game or they are blowing smoke? The owner of Light squared is a friend of Obama and a big contributor to his election fund (not sure about his re-election fund).

Of course he is going to condemn the testing, it shows his equipment is not compatible with GPS devices. And that not only includes your phone, your auto, your handheld Garmin type devices but it also includes those mounted in airplanes, helicopters, etc.

I know from my standpoint working SAR, I need accurate GPS and that accurate signal may determine if we find someone alive or dead.

And before spouting off that Lightsquared has no support in DC do a google search...;

Major democratic contributors and friends of Obama hold investments in LS. This includes Obama's friend and politcal advisor Donald Grips.

Obama was an investor in LS.

Julius Genachowski, a friend of Obama and one of his biggest fundraisers is the chairman of the FCC. They also granted LS a waiver to operate.

Philip Falcone is a very large democratic supporter and donator to the party and to Obama. He has personally met in the WH with Obama.

LS lobbying firms have heavy democratic flavor...Ed Rendall, Richard Gephardt.

The VP of LS served with Genachowski and Gips on Obama's transistion team.

Falcone has stated a few times, that GPS should NOT BE PROTECTED. I guess his phone system is more important than safety of those flying or even those who are hiking in the mountains and relying on GPS for direction. (Personally, a dumb thing to do, never rely on electronics for hiking safety, but it is used that way. I believe safety is more important.)

foxbat121 says:

To play the game in Washington, you need contribute to BOTH sides, not just one side, especially Obama Administration now is in the deep hot water relating to the Solyndra scandle.

For example, SOPA/PIPA have supporters from both sides of the isles. Fannie Mae is also known to contribute to both parties.

milesmcever says:

You are correct but it still comes down to who you are do you still hear about haliburton or even whitewater? They all seem to have these scandles I would like to see the real tests come out before I take any of this seriously.

foxbat121 says:

Tests can be rigged by either side. Anyone with real knowledge of science knows it will affect all existing GPS units no matter what LS claims if you are close enough to one of its towers.

I'm just playing devil's advocate since there is zero chance LS can come out of this as a winner, especially if you want to bring this to general public. You never see supporters of SOPA raise the issue to public.

afazel says:

I believe it's just the high-precision GPS devices that also listen in on the frequencies LS is using, not all GPS devices.

foxbat121 says:

My GPS receivers in phones and handheld units already had a hardtime get decent signa lock. Having a Microwave ovan, e.g. LS towers, spewing strong signals (way more powerful over the weak GPS signal) next to it will only make it worse.

Rob White says:

Odd how I saw this marked as spam by the ratings. You only told the truth. I guess the liberal super-smart geek crowd that has glomed onto Android can't stand to see their boy being labeled for what he is... A big gov't-big business loving fan of the 1%. As long as the 1% keep giving bribe money to his campaign that is.

sota767 says:

Imagine you're in a quiet room and on the other side of the room someone is whispering at you. That's how strong a GPS signal is.

Now imagine the space shuttle is launching in the room with you while you try to hear the person whispering. That's how strong LS's signal is in comparison.

wraith404 says:

Mobile GPS units have trouble enough locking on, I'd rather not have that extra 1dB of interference, regardless of how much impact LightSquared *thinks* it will have. I'm sure they are thinking in my best interests before theirs... /eyeroll

I agree with light square. I call shenanigans on behalf of the gps manufacturers and the government. The test don't soundlike they where anything but bias and unfair. Shenanigans I Say!!

afazel says:

Some great discussion on this here: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/114969

Some of these guys live and breathe this stuff. Most of what I know about this whole slew of BS is from DSLR and links I've followed from DSLR.

movielover76 says:

I am torn, I completely understand that concerns of gps interference in critical systems is the most important thing, and I was one of many who discounted light squared ever truly fixing the interference issues, but I have to wonder, if the tests really were secretive in nature and given how much potential a wholesale LTE business has to disrupt and introduce serious competition into the wireless sector, how much money would the likes of AT&T and Verizon be interested in seeing lightsquared fail?

icebike says:

To make those allegations of ATT/Verizon paying for results you have to follow the money, and no one has any evidence of that.

If you are going to allege money changing hands, why not be even handed about it?

LS is claiming only old legacy devices are affected. (not true, but that's what they claim).

The Device manufacturers would love selling you a new device and getting your old one out of the field, and suppressing its resale value. Wouldn't THEY have a vested interest in putting money toward LS's claims of bogus testing?

vinny jr says:

Why all the secret testing without any member from LS being there to over see the testing. This smells like a skunk to me. This could be a great way for us to receive our data, available to everyone, no need to hardwire cable and very fast download and upload speeds. This needs a 3rd party involved, someone to overlook this entire testing procedure.