Billionaire Phil Falcone's LightSquared wireless venture said certain users of global-positioning systems such as Trimble Navigation Ltd. (TRMB) should pay for filters on their devices that will help mitigate the interference caused by the network.
LightSquared said in a conference call with reporters Friday that Trimble and other manufacturers have been aware of the potential for interference since about 2003 and could have taken action sooner to prevent GPS interference. LightSquared said it has committed $50 million to helping pay for interference solutions for federal agencies using GPS receivers.
"The GPS industry has to bear responsibility," particularly those users of high-precision GPS receivers, said LightSquared General Counsel Curtis Lu on the conference call.
LightSquared has been buffeted by criticism from Deere & Co. (DE), Trimble and others who've said the company's spectrum can cause interference with their GPS devices. The venture has vowed to use an alternate frequency and said Friday that it has developed filters to help prevent GPS signals from being drowned out.
LightSquared needs Federal Communications Commission approval to operate its network under a previous commitment to cover 260 million Americans by the end of 2015, through the use of about 40,000 base stations. The company, backed by Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, hopes to compete with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. (T) and Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) in selling wireless capacity wholesale.
-By Greg Bensinger, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-4676; firstname.lastname@example.org