My Insanely Long Field Guide to Lightsquared v. The GPS Guys
By Harold | June 14, 2011
For some time now, I’ve been rooting for Lightsquared. Despite the fact that it faces tough odds trying to build out an expensive wireless network, a wireless network built from ground up for wholesale only could totally change the wireless market (which is entirely different from the mobile cellphone (aka the “commercial mobile radio service” or “CMRS”) market, but that’s a rant for another time). But now, I just love the fight between Lightsquared and the GPS industry because it manages to contain everything that makes spectrum policy in this country like running a marathon with concrete blocks on your feet: bad neighbors operating critical systems so they can get away with being prima donnas, hostility from other federal agencies, unanticipated interference issues that crop up on deployment, and efforts to politicize the FCC’s technical process.
And, as always, a special guest appearance by a very tired looking Julie Knapp.
For a spectrum wonk such as myself, it simply does not get better than this. I also get one more real world example where I say to all the “property is the answer to everything” guys: “Ha! You think property is so hot? The rights are clearly defined here. Where’s your precious Coasian solution now, smart guys?” Which usually sends them back muttering that it’s not their fault no one in the real world follows the models that explain how it’s all supposed to work out in the world of rational actors and no transaction costs where unicorns frolic in the golden sunshine.
So, in the latest installment of my occasional “Insanely Long Field Guide” series, I take a lengthy look at Lightsquared, how we got here, and what I think will happen. Short version, ignore all the pseudo-Whitewater nonsense flogged by the conservative conspiracy theorists and complaints that the FCC bypassed their own process. So far, and I do not say this often so please pay attention, the FCC has behaved entirely appropriately, even intelligently. (Yeah, yeah, don’t let it go to your heads.) What matters is that the FCC is about to receive a report that confirms that, yes, when Lightsquared operates it system, it creates interference for existing deployed GPS systems.