LightSquared announced today that it has reached a spectrum agreement with Deere & Company on use of the L-band for terrestrial service. The company said the accord could serve as a template for agreements with other GPS companies. “We are glad to finally find resolution to these important spectrum issues and are pleased to reach an end to the case against Deere. We will provide increased protections for Deere’s interests by agreeing to power levels on our uplink and downlink frequencies, dialing down our out of band emissions, and by requesting that the FCC modify our license to forgo terrestrial use of the downlink band closest to the GPS signal,” LightSquared Chief Executive Officer Doug Smith said in a news release. “Because of these commitments to protect GPS interests, we are pleased that Deere will not object to the new company’s use of its spectrum located between 1627-1680 MHz and the band at 1526-1536 MHz for terrestrial service.”
Mr. Smith added, “We believe this agreement sets forth the framework that enables GPS and broadband to peacefully coexist, and we will continue to work with industry and government stakeholders to reach consensus that enables this spectrum to be utilized.”
The news release added with additional detail that “New LightSquared will make filings at the FCC that commit to conditions on spectrum use and uplink and downlink limits, and Deere agrees it will not object to the company’s deployment of a network in the spectrum bands 1526-1536 MHz, 1627.5-1637.5 MHz, 1646.5-1656.5 MHz and 1670-1700 MHz, as long as such deployment is consistent with the operational parameters agreed to by the companies in the agreement.”
Mr. Smith told TRDaily in an interview this afternoon that under the agreement announced today, LightSquared would agree to forgo terrestrial use of the 1545-1555 MHz band, which is closest to GPS operations.
Under the agreement, the parties finalized a settlement to a lawsuit that LightSquared filed in 2013 against Deere and other GPS entities, alleging that they concealed the fact that their receivers were manufactured poorly and could not filter out LightSquared signals (TRDaily, Nov. 1, 2013). The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Attorneys for LightSquared, Garmin International, Inc., and Deere had told the court recently that discussions concerning a settlement to the lawsuit were not making much progress (TRDaily, Oct. 9). But a LightSquared attorney said then the company was “cautiously optimistic” that a settlement could be reached with Trimble Navigation Ltd.
In the interview with TRDaily, Mr. Smith declined to discuss whether LightSquared was still negotiating agreements with Trimble and Garmin. “This is live litigation so we … can’t really talk about … discussions that we’re having or not having with them,” he said. He also said that it is too early to assess what impact the agreement could have on the FCC and the Department of Transportation, which has released a plan to conduct GPS-terrestrial compatibility testing.
Deere spokesman Ken Golden said today that his company “did not make any payment to settle the litigation. As part of the agreement, LightSquared agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against Deere and to pay a portion of Deere’s attorneys’ fees.”
“Deere looks forward to working with LightSquared and other spectrum users on the important dual goals of expanding mobile broadband networks while protecting GPS and other navigation technologies both of which are critical to the nation’s interests,” Mr. Golden added. “The agreement does not constitute an endorsement by Deere & Company of the LightSquared network.”
Efforts to get comment on today’s announcement from Garmin and Trimble were not successful.
In another LightSquared development, the company yesterday emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – three days after the FCC released an order approving the transfer of licenses and international section 214 authorizations and the transfer of domestic section 214 authority from LightSquared Subsidiary LLC Debtor in Possession to LightSquared Subsidiary LLC, subject to conditions (TRDaily, Dec. 4).
“The company continues to work very diligently to resolve any concerns about the use of the spectrum, and our active engagement with external stakeholders regarding ways to make our spectrum available portends a bright future for our company,” Mr. Smith said in a blog posting released late yesterday. “We are committed to achieving compromise and working with the GPS community – including the provision of increased protections for the industry – to ensure GPS and wireless broadband can co-exist.”
In another development related to LightSquared, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York) issued an order yesterday affirming a February ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissing a lawsuit filed by Phil Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners LLC and a number of affiliated entities against several GPS entities.
The lawsuit sought billions of dollars in damages for what the complaint said was the failure of the defendants to disclose earlier the impact of LightSquared’s network on GPS devices using adjacent spectrum. Harbinger previously controlled LightSquared and still has a minority interest in the restructured company.
The defendants in “Harbinger Capital Partners LLC et al. v. Deere & Company et al.” (no 15-408-cv), which was originally filed in 2013 (TRDaily, Aug. 9), were Deere, Garmin, Trimble, and the U.S. GPS Industry Council and the Coalition to Save Our GPS. (since renamed the GPS Innovation Alliance).
The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit’s allegations of securities fraud and related claims under federal and state laws.
For example, it said the GPS entities had no business with Harbinger and thus “had no obligation to disclose information regarding OOBR [out-of-band receptions] [interference] on the basis of their purported superior knowledge.”
Judges Robert D. Sack, Denny Chin, and Raymond L. Lohier Jr. issued the order.
Harbinger declined to comment on the court decision, as did the GPS Innovation Alliance.- Paul Kirby, email@example.com