Could Lightsquared compete against the big wireless companies?

Molly Wood Apr 27, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Could Lightsquared compete against the big wireless companies?

Molly Wood Apr 27, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.