All posts by BroadbandforAllCalifornians

U.S. Agriculture Community Supports LightSquared Network

One of the most significant benefits of LightSquared’s network will be the elimination of the “digital divide” that keeps millions of Americans – many of them in rural areas – from participating in the wireless broadband revolution.

Our network will bring 4G-LTE to rural Americans from coast to coast, and our integrated satellite-terrestrial capabilities will help every corner of the country receive a strong, high-speed wireless broadband signal. We expect that LightSquared will be especially helpful to our nation’s agricultural sector, in which wireless technology is especially needed to conduct business, communicate and receive information from remote locations.

For the past decade, we have developed our network based on the fact that America needs more capacity and competition in broadband wireless, and that the technical challenges – notably, the potential for GPS receiver interference – are surmountable by applying ingenuity and energy to develop engineering solutions. We have always believed that LightSquared and GPS can and will co-exist, for the benefit of the country. That benefit will be felt by all Americans in the form of increased choice, greater innovation and lower prices – but perhaps most notably among farmers, who too often are denied its benefits.

This week, we received a strong endorsement of our view that LightSquared and GPS can co-exist from several of the country’s leading agricultural organizations: the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugar Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union, National Potato Council and the Western Growers Association. These groups signed a joint letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees calling for them to work to ensure that the agricultural sector receives the benefits of LightSquared’s network alongside GPS.

“We believe that both of these technologies have great potential to drive economic development in rural America and a reasonable agreement should be reached to allow for their future success,”

the organizations wrote.

“We urge your committees to communicate to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the benefit farmers and ranchers will receive from expanded broadband access and precision agriculture. The FCC must ensure that accurate GPS will continue to be available for precision agriculture and also ensure that broadband access be made available for all of rural America.”

We welcome the support of these important organizations and their members. Read the full letter here.

Correcting the Record on LightSquared

Special interests are trying to distract attention from the facts.

For eight years, LightSquared has navigated the regulatory process to win approvals to build America’s first privately funded coast-to-coast wireless broadband service. LightSquared’s plan to invest billions of dollars to use its frequencies for an integrated ground-space network has been supported by both Republican and Democratic regulators –Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, FCC Chairmen appointed by President Bush,and Julius Genachowski, the FCC Chairman appointed by President Obama. In fact, the regulatory approvals that paved our way came in the mid-2000’s, during the Bush administration under Powell and Martin.

Regulators from both parties understand LightSquared’s approach will create more competition in the marketplace, put downward pressure on the prices paid by consumers, create good paying jobs in the tech sector, and give Americans access to the most modern cellular technology. LightSquared’s plan has drawn bipartisan support because it’s right for the country.

Any suggestion that LightSquared has run roughshod over the regulatory process is contradicted by the reality of eight long years spent gaining approvals. Just this week, there has been another request from the government for an additional round of testing of LightSquared’s network.

We understand that some in the telecom sector fear the challenges for their business model that LightSquared presents. We understand the opposition of some in the GPS industry; many of their devices “squat” on someone else’s spectrum and while technological fixes are readily available, some companies are loath to make the necessary engineering changes and would instead prefer to get access to someone else’s spectrum for free.

It’s also ludicrous to suggest LightSquared’s success depends on political connections. This is a private company that has never taken one dollar in taxpayer money. About $10,600 sits in the LightSquared PAC. The founder of LightSquared has given to candidates in both political parties in the last eight years, with two thirds of his contributions going to Republicans because of the founder’s free market philosophy. It’s difficult to charge that LightSquared has undue political influence when it was denied the opportunity to testify at the recent hearing of the House Armed Service Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee – or even be allowed a one-on-one meeting with the chariman of that committee prior to the hearing, as the GPS industry was given.

This entrepreneurial company is poised to create as many as 15,000 jobs as it spends $8 billion to help provide American consumers with cheaper, better cell service. It’s time Washington politicians stop using LightSquared as a piñata. Smart engineers, not political rhetoric, should decide LightSquared’s fate.

If LightSquared is blocked from entering the wireless market, consumers will lose out on the benefits of a new source of more competition, better service and lower prices.

Spectrum Scarcity and the Consumer

Can you imagine having to wait your turn to make a mobile phone call? It may seem like a far-fetched concept, but it’s a practical reality in many large urban areas where completing a call during peak times has become a frustrating challenge. After years of double digit growth, the nation’s wireless networks simply don’t have enough capacity on their towers to support the more than 300 million mobile devices in this country.

This spectrum shortage has been compounded by the popularity of smart phones, which use 24 times more wireless capacity than a regular handset. Wireless tablets, such as an iPad, use five times as much as a smartphone, and netbooks send and receive four times as much data as a tablet. It’s easy to see how all those videos, photos and Facebook updates are clogging our nation’s networks and leading to dropped calls and no service signals.

The trend towards more network congestion is clear, and that’s not good news for consumers who are used to technology advancements providing faster speeds and lower prices. But the nation’s wireless networks are not keeping up with the rapid advancement of our mobile devices. Rather than keep up with demand, Verizon and AT&T have begun to ration their customers. Both companies recently stopped offering unlimited wireless plans, meaning that it will cost subscribers more to access the same services.

LightSquared is poised to help alleviate the problem by putting a huge new chunk of airwaves to use. We plan to build a 4G-LTE network that will provide world-class connectivity in urban and rural America. LightSquared’s wholesale model will give a host of different companies – from regional wireline providers to retailers to device manufacturers – the opportunity to offer competitively-priced wireless services while providing the same or better speeds and features as the national carriers. LightSquared is what our nation’s wireless consumers need now.

Expansion of Wireless Network is Critical

This editorial in The Detroit News by Orjiakor N. Isiogu, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, very nearly perfectly sums up our argument.

Like HDTV before it, 4G-LTE wireless holds incredible promise for consumers and device manufacturers alike. But today there is insufficient wireless capacity to support millions of 4G-LTE devices, and demand is rising ever faster. According to Cisco Systems, mobile traffic is expected to increase 26-fold by 2015. By 2015 the majority of Internet traffic will be via mobile devices – a reality unthinkable just two years ago.

That’s why LightSquared’s venture is significant. It would substantially increase America’s broadband wireless capacity while providing next-generation high-speed wireless data and voice to areas previously underserved. In addition, the company plans to market its nationwide network on a wholesale model, allowing any number of new competitors to enter the market. Many observers have hailed this proposal as a key part of President Obama’s plan to increase high-speed Internet adoption nationwide, while also increasing competition in a consolidating wireless industry, all at zero cost to taxpayers, thanks to a planned $25 billion investment by the company.

More competitors in the market will mean lower prices and better service for consumers, along with expanded wireless broadband options. Another key benefit will be the economic benefit associated with building out a national network, including the creation of an estimated 15,000 jobs per year. Public safety could be enhanced by this network as well.

Simply put, whether you’re somewhere in urban Michigan or rural California, an expanded wireless network means more competition, lower prices, and better service. And we’re doing it all at zero cost to taxpayers.

More Spectrum. Yeah. That’s the Answer!

For real – it is. And the truth is, that while all of this debate about the AT&T/T-Mobile merger is important, worthwhile and necessary, it’s also something of a red herring. Because at the end of the day the problem that the merger was initiated in part to address, the problem that will ultimately prevent new competition, stifle innovation and shut down the incredible potential to create jobs and grow the economy through broadband investment remains.

And that problem is SPECTRUM.

And if there’s something we know a little bit about, it’s the need for more spectrum.

Check out this very excellent article written by Jeff Kagen at E-Commerce Times, “Let’s Solve the Real Wireless Problem: Spectrum Shortage”…

LightSquared Provides Satellite Communications to Hurricane Irene Emergency Management Teams

During an otherwise sleepy August summer, the East Coast was jolted by a confluence of unlikely events: a historic earthquake and a hurricane within days of each other.

The fact that both events occurred near the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 serves as a reminder about how much progress this nation has made when it comes to preparing for disasters, both natural and man-made.

However, the nation’s cell phone network is still vulnerable to major disruptions – a fact demonstrated in stark reality in the hours succeeding last week’s earthquake, when millions of people from North Carolina to New York were unable to make calls.

Unfortunately – but perhaps surprising to some – such outages have an impact on the ability of emergency responders to communicate with each other during major events.

LightSquared is part of the solution, as public safety agencies have come increasingly to rely on our satellite devices and service during emergencies since 9/11.

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast, LightSquared did its part to assist emergency responders in preparing and responding to the event, by ensuring that various agencies can communicate with each other as they respond to the needs of public.

Last Thursday, LightSquared’s Emergency Rapid Response Communications Team (ERRT) deployed, at the request of several state emergency management agencies, to locations in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. The team provides on-call mobile satellite communications services, personnel and equipment for emergency support to first responders and public safety agencies. The teams also assist responders in employing use of our G2 satellite phones, which feature our critical Push-to-Talk (PTT) service. PTT allows groups of responders from different agencies to communicate simultaneously. Our team also assists in the creation of “talk groups” of public safety workers through our Satellite Mutual Aid Radio Talkgroup” (SMART) service.

And last Friday, we collaborated with Inmarsat to jointly coordinate our spectrum to ensure there is sufficient satellite capacity for our respective emergency management and first responder customers as they prepare – and respond to – Hurricane Irene.

LightSquared has been offering mobile satellite services for more than 20 years, having launched our two MSAT satellites in 1995 and 1996. Last November, we launched our next-generation satellite, SkyTerra 1, which has the world’s largest reflector (22 meters), enabling satellite services on handheld devices similar in size and shape to traditional cell phones.

Earlier this month, we announced that we had completed the successful transition of 50,000 public safety and enterprise customers from the MSAT satellites to SkyTerra 1.

This past week is not the first time LightSquared has responded to natural disasters. We have assisted emergency responders on Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, the earthquake in Haiti, the ice storm in Kentucky and this year’s tornado in Joplin, Mo., among other disasters.

In addition to providing essential communications services to public safety organizations, our services serve crucial functions in the private sector, including maritime, oil and gas, utilities, news and entertainment, telecom and other industries.

Not well known among the general public is that our overall satellite business service supports more than 300,000 customers.

LightSquared awaits a decision by the FCC that would clear our launch of the nation’s first wholesale-only integrated 4G-LTE wireless broadband and satellite network.

From a practical standpoint, what does this mean for consumers?

It means for the first time, millions of underserved people in rural America will be able to access wireless broadband service. It means a person driving through Yellowstone Park or a barren stretch of desert in Arizona will be still be able to talk on their cell phone. It means more competition for a marketplace that has come to be increasingly dominated by two key players. It means lower prices for consumers.

LightSquared has long been a game-changer for public safety officials. It will soon be a game-changer for the broader consumer market as well.

Bringing Broadband to Every Corner of CA

Few topics today are generating as much discussion as the seemingly insatiable demand for mobile data and how our country is going to keep pace with it. The United States has set a national goal to provide 98 percent of Americans with broadband access within the next five years. LightSquared is stepping up to help make this a reality. We are contributing $14 billion in private investment over the next eight years to build a nationwide wireless broadband network using 4G-LTE technology integrated with satellite coverage. This represents a $14 billion private sector-not government-investment in America’s infrastructure.

The deployment and management of the LightSquared network will, in turn, create new jobs. We expect to generate more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs in each of the next five years. And that’s just the beginning of what the LightSquared network will help bring to California and across the country.

LightSquared will offer network capacity on a wholesale-only basis. This is a dramatic departure from the current vertically integrated model in the wireless industry, and it will open the broadband market to new players such as retailers, cable companies, and device manufacturers, to name a few. This means that end users – consumers like you – will enjoy the benefits of innovation, increased competition, and choice.

Last, but not least, the LightSquared integrated 4G-LTE-satellite network will provide much-needed access to consumers, businesses, healthcare facilities, tribal communities, and public safety agencies throughout rural America. Across the country, we will serve critical public sector needs such as emergency preparedness and seamless communications in times of crisis.

One of the reasons we are so committed to bringing wireless connectivity to the underserved rural United States was seen in action this past spring. As storms and a tornado ripped through the south, websites were posting potentially lifesaving real-time information. But because broadband Internet access and adoption in Alabama is below the national average, many residents missed out on the advance warning. This is unacceptable. The United States should be the global leader in delivering wireless broadband to all of its citizens, regardless of whether they live in rural Alabama or downtown Los Angeles.