LightSquared Files for Bankruptcy

LightSquared, the company that hopes to build a broadband cellular telephone network that has been shown to interfere with GPS signals, has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 restructuring in the wake of the FCC’s decision to not grant it permission to move ahead with its original plans.

On February 14, the FCC announced it was going to revoke its previous conditional approval of LightSquared’s plans to construct a broadband wireless system that includes some 40,000 network ground stations operating at a frequency very close to that already used for GPS transmissions.

The move came in response to a combination of test results showing interference was a very real problem and widespread public outcry, which included letters to the FCC from over 18,000 sailors and other GPS users in opposition to the plan.

For its part, LightSquared has claimed that GPS users and manufacturers are the ones truly to blame for the problem because they have failed to make their products resilient enough to the very interference LightSquared hopes to create.

According to Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared VP for regulator affairs and public policy, “Like Wall Street, the manufacturers of GPS devices have spent years profiting off of vulnerable technology and are now seeking protection from the government instead of implementing the necessary reforms.”

Although LightSquared’s latest move would seem to put the matter to rest, BoatUS president Margaret Podlich says sailors and other GPS cannot yet let their guard down.

According to Podlich, "The voluntary Chapter 11 filing is intended to give LightSquared sufficient breathing room to continue working through the regulatory process that will allow us to build our 4G wireless network." Under federal bankruptcy law, LightSquared would maintain exclusive control for several months over the right to craft a path to emerge from Chapter 11.

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