Could Lightsquared compete against the big wireless companies?

Lightsquared logo.

Lightsquared isn't something you can sign up for right now. They don't have any advertising campaign or kiosks at the mall to sell their wares. But the company is taking a pretty big investment and attempting to build out a massive nationwide network.

It's been kind of an odd path for the company. They managed to procure a section of the broadcast spectrum from the Federal Communications Commission based on the idea that the coverage they provide would be from satellites and not from traditional ground towers. Neat idea, but a signal traveling all the way to space and back creates what's called latency. It's a lag of a few fractions of a second that might not seem like that big a deal but could really screw up communications.

So Lightsquared was granted permission to build ground towers to supplement the satellite coverage. A new company using spectrum on the ground created concern in some circles that the result would be screwed-up GPS signals. Our guest, University of Illinois professor Christian Sandvig, says that's bunk. All the signals should get along just fine after the FCC's review this summer. Sandvig says the FCC would never let anything bad happen to GPS

Sandvig also cautions that since most phones aren't really equipped to deal with a satellite signal, the satellite end of Lightsquared's operation won't really make any difference once this network finally gets up and running.

Also in this program, Friendster tells users to remove all personal material. Time to take down those Avril Lavigne photos and "Ally McBeal" episode recaps.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...