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LightSquared Files For Bankruptcy

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the can't-wait-for-the-new-conspiracy-theories dept.

Wireless Networking 138

fallen1 writes "Wireless broadband company LightSquared has filed for bankruptcy. In filings with U.S. Bankruptcy court, it was revealed that LightSquared had assets and debts of over $1 billion each. The decision followed a year-long fight between LightSqaured and GPS users — including some heavyweights like FedEx and UPS. Apparently Boeing and Alcatel-Lucent are heavily invested, but it would be interesting to see what the old Bell Labs could do with the technology."

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Nothing to see here... (4, Informative)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998611)

This was decided way back at the final interference testing. This is merely formalizing the failure of the business.

Ok, scratch that business plan... (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998625)

1) Come up with profitable idea that violates the laws of physics
2) Use political influence to get around the laws of physics
3) PROFIT!

... well maybe not.

Re:Ok, scratch that business plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999089)

Missed the "???" step. Of course it's not going to work... you need the "???" step before the "PROFIT!" step...

Re:Ok, scratch that business plan... (3)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999355)

It's Step 2.

Re:Ok, scratch that business plan... (0)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999521)

It could also be

1) Come up with profitable idea that threatens business models of crooked, incumbent telecoms
2) Incumbent telecoms pay off people that do the studies and claim that your product will kill people and end life as we know it and kick puppies
3) Be forced into bankruptcy because you don't have that kind of political clout

Re:Ok, scratch that business plan... (3, Insightful)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999755)

I'm sure the incumbent telecoms forced Lightsquared to purchase satellite-to-ground spectrum when they really wanted terrestrial spectrum.
Yepper-de-depper!

Um, no... (2)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999763)

Ask someone who has even a 100 level class in RF design under their belt.

Re:Um, no... (2)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000429)

Or any of the legion of ham radio operators worldwide.

Hams know all too well that their transmitter can easily overpower their neighbor's TV reception.

I know when I did ham radio as a teen, some of the exam questions were about how to deal with neighbors who are angry that you're ruining their reception.

Re:Ok, scratch that business plan... (4, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999791)

Or it could be that the executive staff just received some of the worst engineering advice ever. High-power terrestrial transmissions anywhere near the GPS band are forbidden not only by US law but also by international treaty, for reasons that could have been explained if these clowns had bothered to ask any qualified RF engineer.

Translating for the MBAs out there: "A lot of people who knew what they were doing agreed not to do stuff like this."

Lack of due diligence on Falcone's part does not justify making exceptions to the laws the rest of us have to follow.

It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved. (1, Interesting)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998631)

Most people just see the GPS side of this fight, afraid of losing GPS in the continental U.S. In reality it would have mostly affected those who needed extreme precision, not the average users. That's not to say that losing the precision is good, no it's clearly bad for everyone. However, lightsquared wanted to give wireless internet to everyone in the continental U.S. It's just a shame there wasn't some technical way to resolve the issue before lawyers got involved.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998683)

Just buy different spectrum.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998705)

Yeah but that spectrum that wasn't useful for high power terrestrial transmissions was so much cheaper!

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

lcam (848192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998777)

The spectrum they bought was probably dirt cheap. No way to make a profit with spectrum that is more in demand.

Dirt cheap because nobody else would touch it (for good reason).

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (3, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998847)

The spectrum they bought was probably dirt cheap. No way to make a profit with spectrum that is more in demand.

Dirt cheap because nobody else would touch it (for good reason).

Did you miss the part in TFA where it explained that "LightSquared invested $4 billion in airwaves"? 4 Billion is still a lot of money, at least where I come from. I suppose for a nationwide network it probably pales in comparison to what AT&T or Verizon hold, but it is still a substantial investment. I wonder if the FCC will give them a refund on all those unused EM rays?

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

BackwardPawn (1356049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998971)

Four billion seems like a lot, but I really have no concept of how much it is unless its put into perspective. I did a quick search and didn't find much so I'll just pull numbers out of the air...if a spectrum normally costs, say $40 billion, and they got it for $4 billion, its still a lot of money to the average person, but dirt cheap for the company.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (5, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999045)

Did you miss the part in TFA where it explained that "LightSquared invested $4 billion in airwaves"? 4 Billion is still a lot of money, at least where I come from. I suppose for a nationwide network it probably pales in comparison to what AT&T or Verizon hold, but it is still a substantial investment. I wonder if the FCC will give them a refund on all those unused EM rays?

Oh sure, 4$ billion is a lot of money. Problem here is Verizon, AT&T, Sprint etc spent even more for spectrum space allotted for high power use and Light Squared was trying to buy cheap spectrum and then get the rules changed. There was no way they could afford spectrum allotted for this kind of use and make their business model work. The licenses they have purchased can be sold to pay their creditors, but I don't think the FCC is going to give them a refund.

Bye Bye Light Squared...

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999519)

A modulation technique that didn't crater GPS would have been a start. If you look at the filing, their CFO still believes that they can get a deal with the FCC. So it proves the Insanity Law, 2x. Entrepreneurs will try to defy physics, then do it again. Good luck with that.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999993)

It's not about modulation, it's about power levels required to make their receivers work at usable data speeds totally swamping the front ends of the adjacent GPS receivers.

They could lower power levels, but you have to obey Physics by giving up your data rate and wiz bang modulation techniques are not going to fix the problem for you. I suppose one could get a some pretty low data rate stuff (like under 300 baud) to work at some really low powers. But it's going to be very expensive for the data rate you can expect and you are still going to be causing GPS issues. But for only low data rates, there are other spectrum spaces that would be cheaper and easier that are not near GPS or anything else that would be an issue.

The problem here is that they simply could not hope to transmit at high enough data rates without jamming GPS in the process on the spectrum they purchased on the cheap.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40000473)

Hence. the. incorrect. modulation. technique.

I disagree that other schemes used at the frequencies they won, would crater gps. It's not amplitude, it's amplitude + modulation scheme.

But the answer is still the same: the spectra is largely unusable for the scheme they desired.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

lcam (848192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000059)

I didn't read TFA.

Perhaps I stand corrected about the band being unwanted at the time of purchase. I elaborate a bit below.

+1 about the FCC giving them a licensing refund but that's wishful thinking.

Licenses don't stipulate an obligation to utilize the wavelengths. In fact when LightSquared picked up this portion of the spectrum (near the GPS spectrum) GPS wasn't such a dominant technology and during the time of the rise of GPS they sat on it. I can provide a link to an article where that was mentioned if anyone cares to read it.

A LightSquared supporter claims GPS technology was "sloppy" and some implementation circuits where left vulnerable to high energy in this neighboring spectrum exactly because LightSquared did nothing with that spectrum for such a long time. They even tried to claim that tests where performed using some of that out of date and/or vulnerable circuits exactly so that they would fail. That was before their bankruptcy of course.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40001089)

The band Lightspeed bought is low-power ground/space. Lightspeed is free to use it for low-power ground/space communications all they want, in accordance with its current usage rules.

Lightspeed gambled they could con the FCC into allowing conversion to a different use, and to hell with the harm to anyone else. The FCC never promised that they would do so, allowed experiments to see if it could be made to work, and the experiments failed. Well, Las Vegas doesn't give refunds to gamblers either.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998707)

Lightsquared wanted to provide wireless internet at a price (not give). They also wanted to do it on the cheap so they could make money hand over fist. They failed.

Had they wanted to offer wireless at a fair price for a reasonable profit, they would have licensed spectrum appropriate for that application.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

kbdd (823155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000987)

In addition, they wanted to bully their way through the process using influence and connections.

In sum, they thought they were very smart. So much for that.

In the end, the people who got screwed are the investors who followed them blindly, or knowingly. Those were guilty of stupidity or greed, respectively. Either way they have what they deserve.

The idiots who were running the show already got paid. They will now go on to their next venture, using this *success* as a reference.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (5, Insightful)

DeepLinux (233509) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998719)

What?

They purchased air to ground spectrum and tried to re-purpose it as ground to ground spectrum. They sued when the FCC told them to go take a running jump.

Then tried to claim that GPS vendors were at fault for not having perfect notch filters in their equipment (hint such a thing is not physically possible)

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998993)

"(hint such a thing is not physically possible)" thinking outside the box!!?

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999055)

If there's one thing I've learned from management seminars, it's that "thinking outside the box" is a very powerful tool.
In fact, since I've started applying this principle in my daily life I have been able to do all sorts of things that the average guy wouldn't think are possible, such as levitate, wall through walls, bend spoons with the force of my will, and build perfect notch filters.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999175)

"(hint such a thing is not physically possible)" thinking outside the box!!?

My employer tells me to think outside the box but then sticks me in a cube...

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999221)

"(hint such a thing is not physically possible)" thinking outside the box!!?

My employer tells me to think outside the box but then sticks me in a cube...

He was referring to a 2d box. He put you in a 3d box, which by definition is indeed outside the scope of just a 2d box. Just think outside the box and you would see this!

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40001103)

"(hint such a thing is not physically possible)" thinking outside the box!!?

We eagerly await your perfect notch filter. You're gonna be richer than Zuckerberg!

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999535)

I'm sure the media outlets will do their due diligence and explain that you can't alter the Laws of Physics just to make a profit. Also betting the FCC will take a massively undeserved beating on this.

I'd like to know what happens to the spectrum now. Up for auction to the highest bidder, or will the 'asset' game come in and backroom deals insure this goes to someone who is least likely to do anything useful with it for the commercial sector.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

Holi (250190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998747)

Lightsquared anted to "SELL" internet to everyone, they certainly didn't want to give anything away.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (0)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998749)

Extreme precision is the key to automated driving vehicles, so without that you can forget letting the car drive itself.

And probably the best use of a self-driving vehicle is in the middle of nowhere on a limited-access freeway (i.e., an Interstate highway). If you limit the precision of GPS then forget about letting the car drive through Nebraska.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (3, Interesting)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998793)

If GPS is the key to driverless cars, then I can just imagine how much fun the future prankster can have by setting an appropriately-tuned radio transmitter next to the side of the road.

Let's hope there's more to driverless cars than that.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998863)

I'm sure the google car system uses everything that your average android device can use to determine it's location.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998881)

Extreme precision is the key to automated driving vehicles, so without that you can forget letting the car drive itself.

And probably the best use of a self-driving vehicle is in the middle of nowhere on a limited-access freeway (i.e., an Interstate highway). If you limit the precision of GPS then forget about letting the car drive through Nebraska.

Of course that is the best use, why if you were to fall asleep and have your car crash itself, it would surely be best that you do it in a location so remote that your body wouldn't be found for hours or days.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999309)

ummm.... why? Current driveless car technology may use GPS for some data, but it's hardly necessary.

Google's driveless car can keep track of the road and oncoming obstacles just through a laser system within a tens-of-meters range which gathers data on close objects and then uses that data to extrapolate the position of further objects from a video feed.

I see no reason why a driveless car would ever really NEED GPS. The computer is perfectly capable of keeping track of the available turns which it has taken/passed up, which should be enough to determine its position (assuming you knew where the car started from).

In fact, cheap, ubiquitous, and wireless internet is far more useful for automated driving vehicles, as you would need a lot of bandwidth for cars to effectively keep track of each other.

If I'm navigating through Nebraska, all I really need to know to get a good-enough position is what freeway I entered on and how many exits I've passed. A video-feed could provide this information. Or even easier, a small signal emitter at each freeway exit could allow the car to record this info.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998855)

Most people just see the GPS side of this fight, afraid of losing GPS in the continental U.S. In rreality it would have mostly affected those who needed extreme precision,

You mean like land surveyors and engineers. Yeah, people whose livelihoods depend on accurate GPS, because they build useless things like highways, bridges, airports, power plants, and other useless shit like that.

Get the fuck off of Slashdot.

--
BMO

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999031)

Last I looked, (a week ago, but hey, maybe it's changed in the last 7 days) surveyors used transits and lasers, not GPS. Even a surveyor's transit is more accurate than GPS. Being accurate to within a few feet (or even a couple of inches, 9 times out of 10, with enhanced units) is not good enough in an urban setting.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999131)

Have a look at (a href="http://trl.trimble.com/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-140079/022543-079K_TrimbleR8GNSS_DS_0412_LR_sec.pdf"> this. Positioning to 3mm. These are not hand-held consumer units.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999155)

Grr. Corrected link [trimble.com]

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999373)

Thank you.

>3mm

About the width of a tack.

--
BMO

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000037)

Have you ever used a transit or other surveying tool? I doubt it.

Read the footnotes - nobody is going to use that for a quick survey to lay out the foundations for a building. For example, mode 1 - +/- HALF A METER (not 3mm)

Accuracy and reliability may be subject to anomalies due to multipath, obstructions, satellite geometry, and atmospheric conditions. The specifications stated recommend the use of stable mounts in an open sky view, EMI and multipath clean environment, optimal GNSS constellation configurations, along with the use of survey practices that are generally accepted for performing the highest-order surveys for the applicable application including occupation times appropriate for baseline length. Baselines longer than 30 km require precise ephemeris and occupations up to 24 hours may be required to achieve the high accuracy static specification.

Contrast that to a couple of minutes to set up and level a tripod, and take a fix on a couple of known markers - works w/o an open sky, works with trees overhead, works without concerns for multi-path interference from other buildings, works w/o needing multiple satellites being overhead, etc.

The same considerations apply to the other modes as well, including the "3mm" (which is not going to happen in real life - by the time you've got your 3mm reading, I'm already packed up and gone, and I haven't used a transit in about 15 years).

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000185)

"Have you ever used a transit or other surveying tool? I doubt it."

The fact that you keep on harping on "transit" as in "transit and tape" means you, yourself, have not touched a piece of surveying equipment in 25 years if ever, since the electronics revolution that cut surveying crews from 5 members to 3 max and usually two. And yes, I do mean the middle of the fucking 80s when Total Stations like Topcon, Wild, and Zeiss fucking changed everything.

Goddamn.

You are a nutcase. Say hello to your new status, asshole.

Yes, I'm mad. Fuck you.

--
BMO

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999169)

Look harder next time.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (3, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999217)

>Last I looked, (a week ago, but hey, maybe it's changed in the last 7 days) surveyors used transits and lasers, not GPS

You would be wrong.

Surveyors were using GPS before the "fuzzing" and after the fuzzing, surveyors were using Differential GPS (google this). Because the fuzzing was in one magnitude and direction it was trivial to correct for. Set up on a known point, correct for it, bam, your GPS now works like it did before the fuzzing.

Now that the charade of fuzzing is over, everybody uses GPS. Everyone. Especially now.

What you are also ignoring is the fact that the longer an antenna is left in one position and more satellites fly over, you get better and better resolution. Swinging a machete and cutting line takes time and costs money. If you can get a location by setting up on a point and gathering data for half a day instead of cutting line and running a traverse to get to it for two days, then you've come out way ahead.

The ultimate goal of land surveying is to be able to reconstruct a piece of land and who owns it even if it is vaporized by a nuclear explosion. GPS gives you this cheaply.

--
BMO

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999347)

In order to reply to myself as a follow up

Land surveyors are involved in land disputes and building. All the way from your 100x100 lot to nuclear reactors, bridges and roads, etc.

There are tools in the toolbox spanning from clapping your hands at 90 degrees, wooden beenies and stakes, handheld levels and stadia rods, to steel tape, to total stations to GPS. Just like a programmer has more than one language under his belt, the toolbox of a land surveyor has more stuff in it than most people think, especially undergrad engineering students.

--
BMO

Stupid land surveyor and orienteering trick. Take your watch: Aim the hour hand at the Sun. Halfway between that and 12 is South. Voila, instant crude compass. Obviously in the Southern Hemisphere, directions are switched around slightly.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999965)

Swinging a machete and cutting line takes time and costs money. If you can get a location by setting up on a point and gathering data for half a day instead of cutting line and running a traverse to get to it for two days, then you've come out way ahead.

What part of that is congruent with my "is not good enough in an urban setting"?

the longer an antenna is left in one position and more satellites fly over, you get better and better resolution.

A transit is quick to set up and get working within a minute or so, doesn't "get more accurate as you wait for more satellites to pass overhead", etc. Also, a transit will work fine in a warehouse or other strutural building where the steel walls and shielding would cause problems with GPS, as well as underground, where GPS absolutely cannot work. Or do you have a neutrino-powered GPS?

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000055)

What part of that is congruent with my "is not good enough in an urban setting"?

Since when is land surveying restricted to urban settings?

A transit is quick to set up and get working within a minute or so, doesn't "get more accurate as you wait for more satellites to pass overhead", etc. Also, a transit will work fine in a warehouse or other strutural building where the steel walls and shielding would cause problems with GPS, as well as underground, where GPS absolutely cannot work. Or do you have a neutrino-powered GPS?

You're talking to someone who used to get paid to do this shit.

You are talking out of your ass.

--
BMO

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998899)

"However, lightsquared wanted to give wireless internet to everyone in the continental U.S."

Stop it. They wanted to sell wireless Internet access to everyone in the US. Internet access based on spectrum which they paid satellite rates for, but wanted to use terrestrially.

Re:It's a shame this couldn't be mutually resolved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999359)

There are no "sides of the fight". Who the fuck are you to decide that YOUR need for wireless internet is is worth more than "those who needed extreme precision"?! GPS works fine, and they where disrupting it, they KNEW what they where getting into, and got slapped for trying to use spectrum in a way they wheren't allowed to.

What technology? (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998633)

Did these guys have any significant technology? (Just askin, I really don't know. Even the Lightsquared Faq [lightsquared.com] is fairly useless at explaining what they have that hasn't been done before)

And if they did, why not move it somewhere else to some radio spectrum where it will not interfere, such as, but not limited to some of the bandwidth Verizon is finding un-useful in the 700mhz band that they can't pawn off on anybody. [slashgear.com]

It seems to me that the only problem they had was a dependence on the wrong block of spectrum. On the other hand, any company that wants to push ahead with a spectrum usage with total disregard for existing spectrum use and the safety concerns of the entire GPS community probably isn't a company you want setting up this type of service in the first place.

Re:What technology? (1)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998689)

You know, you may be right in that they did not necessarily have "new tech" to try and take advantage of the spectrum. Perhaps I should have worded it "see what the old Bell Labs could do with the idea that fostered this company."??

Re:What technology? (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998893)

Coming soon to a venture capital fund-raiser near you - DarkSquare!

They'll take all those wires that nobody's using and push the Internet through them!

It'll be *HUGE*. Be the first sucker^W savvy investor to get in on the ground floor! What could go wrong?

Re:What technology? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998757)

What's wrong with the old UHF-TV spectrum (700 Megahertz)? They made use of the higher-UHF bands (800/900 MHz) for cellular expansion in the 80s.

Re:What technology? (2)

CaptainLugnuts (2594663) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998879)

It's in use, currently broadcasting TV.

Re:What technology? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998907)

And if they did, why not move it somewhere else to some radio spectrum where it will not interfere

The answer to this question is simple they went cheap. They couldn't afford the spectrum they needed to make their business work so they purchased the cheap space next to GPS and they tried to use politics to get the FCC to let them re-purpose the cheap space for their use. They don't have any huge technology advance, they where just betting on the FCC changing its rules so they could get spectrum on the cheap. Without cheap spectrum, their business model wasn't going to work.

The really sad thing here (apart from the senseless waste of money and time trying to argue contrary to physics) is they *almost* got away with it. Most engineers fully understand that what they where trying to do was not going to work, but apparently this message didn't make it to the investors and creditors who will now loose.

It is scary to think the FCC darn near fell for this. We shouldn't be surprised though, they fell for the Broadband over Power Lines hype, so even though it was a risky bet, it wasn't totally without a chance. Glad physics and common sense carried the day, sorry folks are loosing money and jobs. RIP Light Squared, nice try.

Re:What technology? (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999199)

I have only seen bits and pieces as this story came up so I'm curious, why were they allowed to license the spectrum in the first place and why was the space so "cheap" if it is so important that it not be used in the way they intended? Was it licensed for a particular use and they wanted to use it in a different way?

Re:What technology? (3, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999289)

It was allocated for satellite communications. They wanted to use it for terrestrial communications. The FCC didn't think that would work, so they gave them a provisional license so they could demonstrate that it would not interfere. They failed.

Re:What technology? (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999153)

Did these guys have any significant technology? (Just askin, I really don't know. Even the Lightsquared Faq is fairly useless at explaining what they have that hasn't been done before)

And if they did, why not move it somewhere else to some radio spectrum where it will not interfere, such as, but not limited to some of the bandwidth Verizon is finding un-useful in the 700mhz band that they can't pawn off on anybody.

It seems to me that the only problem they had was a dependence on the wrong block of spectrum. On the other hand, any company that wants to push ahead with a spectrum usage with total disregard for existing spectrum use and the safety concerns of the entire GPS community probably isn't a company you want setting up this type of service in the first place.

Their business was to sell broadband internet. Now, they purchased their bands with the intent of launching satellites up in space (I think they actually have one or two) to provide service. Of course, as anyone knows, latency sucks because the speed of light is just too slow.

So to compensate, they wanted to do the same thing, except without expensive satellites. Instead, they wanted to hook ground stations using the same band (licensed and bought as satellite-to-terrestrial band). Besides being significantly cheaper (it costs $1B to launch a satellite these days) they also cut down on latency.

However, everyone else using the band complained (especially since well, GPS was right beside what LightSquared purchased). So the FCC said no.

Satellite-ground bandwidth is significantly cheaper than ground-ground bandwidth (because only so many people can afford the $1B to launch), and cellphone carriers are always purchasing more bandwidth at billions apiece.

Had the FCC said yes, you can bet AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc. would be eyeing vairous bits and pieces of the satellite band to purchase - it's that much cheaper.

Re:What technology? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999321)

Very informative.

So my initial assessment was correct:

1) they did not have any novel new technology, (using terrestrial radio to avoid satellite hops is basic; carriers have been doing this since dirt)

2) they simply had the wrong spectrum

Re:What technology? (1)

HereIAmJH (1319621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000625)

Had the FCC said yes, you can bet AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc. would be eyeing vairous bits and pieces of the satellite band to purchase - it's that much cheaper.

Not likely. Telcos already have better spectrum. 700/800 to get the broad coverage and 1900 to get higher capacity. And then there's Clearwire up in 2500 with the bandwidth capacity of a train. 1600 will work, but it's mediocre at best. The noise that wireless companies are making is because it's expensive to refarm existing spectrum. You have get all those annoying customers to replace their handsets.

Re:What technology? (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40001133)

Did these guys have any significant technology?

Lightspeed: the Enron of RF Spectrum.

Hope they sprung for the Buyer Protection Plan... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998639)

...on all those bribes, er, "campaign contributions".

Re:Hope they sprung for the Buyer Protection Plan. (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999485)

There's the problem. Instead of insuring the bribes, PayPal kept them and froze LightSquared's account. Result: debt!

I knew that was inevitable back in December (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998651)

I knew that was inevitable back in December. As soon as they announced the interference test results. Even if it doesn't ultimately do them in (which, being a Chapter 11, it might not), it does provide the ability to start to get ahead of their debt and protect themselves from a large judgment in the court cases.

I've heard the government wanted failure (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998667)

I've read various articles over the last year that the current administration wanted LightSquared to fail, in order to eliminate competition for a preferred provider (the company that gave campaign donations).

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998713)

Before LightSquared failed, the conspiracy theory was that LightSquared had bribed the current administration to let them in even though it would break everyone's satnav.

Personally I don't think either of them are true; this is just your typical "venture capitalist thinks laws of physics can be bent to meet his business plan; bankruptcy ensues" story, with incompetence filling in for corruption as usual.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998981)

>>>Before LightSquared failed, the conspiracy theory was that LightSquared had bribed the current administration to let them in even though it would break everyone's satnav.

Oh okay.
Thanks for clarifying.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999193)

Hey, don't take my word for it; the links to all the older stories are right there under the summary. You can go through the usual slashdotter conspiracy theories there until you get bored.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998737)

Citation please. Because that sounds like just the sort of thing some jerkoff would say to get back at an administration that thinks that having solid domestic GPS resolution for defense purposes is more important than this company's new technology.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998819)

It's all conspiracy bullshit. Their engineers had to know it was going to cause serious interference, and had to know that neither the FCC specifically, nor the US Government in general would ever let anyone trash GPS. It was an idiotic idea from the get-go, and now the company goes down the crapper for it.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998977)

It is certanly a case of the boss not accepting a "no" from the technical team. I can imagine how they hired outside consultants to tell them their engineers are wrong, and after negotiating a price, they told.

I also can imagine the engineering boss having pointy hair.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999493)

Maybe their engineer's knew, maybe not. The thing about RF is that it's a complex topic. Interference issues are also tough to deal with. You won't know how one system will really intefere with another system unless you have solid experience in the background of both systems or put both systems through rigorous testing.

I personally would think that undertaking such a project to attempt to use the spectrum next to the GPS spectrum for terrestial base stations would have been extremely risky, but there are always the wide-eyed/optimistic engineers out there.

Unless LightSquared had consulting from experienced (expensive) RF/GPS Engineers, I doubt their engineers would have been fully aware of all the implications of the project at the start. By the time LightSquared's engineers realized what they waded into, management was probably already pushing them to go further or trying to fix/cover things up politically.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998915)

I heard the Lutherin church wanted them out of the way, to protect their ability to track enemies of the faith via precision cellphone GPS locations. Worst of all, they hid the evidence.

(Sounds faintly plausible,at least, and is more original than your tired 'guburment conspiracy theme.)

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999061)

Yeah you're right. I don't need a "guburment" conspiracy. The ~300,000 dead persons lying in Iraq plus Afghanistan plus Libya plus Yemen plus Pakistan are enough to damn the current & last presidents to a Nuremberg-style trial for crimes against humanity. And it's impossible to pretend the corpses don't exist.

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999127)

As long as we are both in agreement that making shit up (your first post) is detrimental to making them accountable for their actual atrocities (this post).

Re:I've heard the government wanted failure (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999303)

Are you planning on doing that with all presidents we have had so far?

I can't think of one in recent memory that did not kill a bunch of people.

duh (1)

craftycoder (1851452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998729)

It seemed obvious to me that this wasn't going to work out for them. I suppose this is an example of confirmation bias on my part as I'm sure I wouldn't be posting this if it had gone the other way, but seriously I gave this a 0% chance of success in my minds eye. One wonders why the investors thought that GPS users, the military among them, would roll over and have their devices cease functioning or even risk the interference...

Re:duh (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998837)

The only explanation I can think of is that the investors were morons. But hey, lots of people but SCO stock too, believing they'd be making big bucks from licensing fees for every guy downloading a Linux distro.

Re:duh (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998927)

Larry Ellison, is that you? :-)

Of course you're correct - this is just another OPM (Other_People's_Money) investor scam.

Dear Soulskill (2, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998805)

If I can spot a major typo in the summary 2 seconds after seeing it for the first time ("Litesqaured" in this case) the you are not doing your fucking job.

Re:Dear Soulskill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998947)

"the you are not doing your fucking job."

tsk tsk tsk.

Re:Dear Soulskill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999027)

There's only one instance of "Litesqaured" on this page. The other is "LightSqaured". What does a misspelling of a misspelling make someone?

Re:Dear Soulskill (1)

BiggerBadderBen (947100) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998973)

Pretty ironic that you don't know how to spell either, smartass. Who's the you?

Re:Dear Soulskill (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998991)

If I can spot a major typo in the summary 2 seconds after seeing it for the first time ("Litesqaured" in this case) the you are not doing your fucking job.

It's pretty clear that you're OK with minor typos.

Re:Dear Soulskill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998997)

"the you are not doing your ..."
Praise the Lord it ain't either

Re:Dear Soulskill (3, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999033)

They are not moderators, they are not editors, all they do is choose which stories to post, do not expect anything beyond that from them.

Yes, they are listed as Editors, but I think that is just that there isn't really a good word for what little they do.

Re:Dear Soulskill (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999173)

What else has become evident is that trolling has become trivially easy on Slashdot. Judging by the positive moderation of the OP and the cornucopia of responses it has already gathered, all I have to say to the OP is:

Bravo. Bravo. One of the best and most successful troll posts I have seen in a long time.

SoulSkill is a fucking retard (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998845)

"LightSqaured"

Do you ever READ anything before you post it?

Moral of the story? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998963)

Don't buy cheap satellite spectrum to re-purpose for terrestrial use unless you've really thought it out.

None of this would have happened if he had bought more expensive but less problematic terrestrial spectrum or bought a patch of spectrum farther away from the GPS band.

His idea doubtless seemed clever at the time. And it was... if he didn't interfere with GPS. He did though even if it was all the fault of the GPS devices.

Food for thought.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998985)

I believe it was all the fault of physics, not the GPS devices.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999383)

Apparently LS was right to the extent their machines were not interfering with those frequencies. But older and cheaper GPS devices were not shielded from powerful signals in other frequencies and so it interfered with them.

So, it's not entirely LS fault... it just doesn't matter.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999477)

You're right that it doesn't matter, but as a point of clarification it was not the 'cheaper' devices that had problems, it was the very expensive high-precision ones. If those devices had any steeper filters the precision would go right down the toilet and the device would be useless.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

kbdd (823155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40001131)

Those high precision users are those who had a voice in the end and successfully shut LS down, but LS would have interfered with all the less expensive applications of GPS, like E911 and other small, cost sensitive portable applications where you cannot afford the size of the filter and additional electronics necessary to offset the loss due to the better filter.

Those users were not as vocal, or they were not listened to, but if LS had succeeded, a lot of these GPS applications would have gone down too, not just the high precision timing and location services.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999205)

It was all that and those meddling kids at the FCC.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999509)

It didn't help that the guy made "arrangements" with powerful people to get the way greased. Powerful people have powerful enemies. And by using those powerful people you acquire their enemies.

They would have done better to keep their heads down and avoid involving themselves in political power struggles.

That said, if you need powerful allies simply to get the FCC to give you a f'ing license then that speaks to the inefficiency of the organization.

Re:Moral of the story? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000813)

They knew it was impossible to do on that spectrum, but their plan was to buy additional satellite bands and make up in volume what they lost in...I don't know, reality?

article blurb is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40000157)

boeing and alcatel are not "invested". lightsquared owes them money. there's a big difference between being an investor and being a creditor.

as creditors, it's impossible to know whether boeing or alcatel even really cares if lightsquared goes under. if lightsquared owes them $8 million each, it is possible that each of them has already been paid twice or 3x or 10x that previously.

Bell labs? (1)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000457)

".... but it would be interesting to see what the old Bell Labs could do with the technology."

This is a strange question. What 'technology' did LightSquared invent? Bell Labs came up with many of the fundamental ideas that are still used in wireless communications today, so it's difficult to see what they could learn from LightSquared.

Protection, not liquidation (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000483)

They're filing chapter 11 bankruptcy, not chapter 7.

Not promising regardless, but they're apparently not giving up yet.

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