OK. I'm gonna stick my neck out there, and I know there are going to be a lot of naysayers that say it can't be done. But I think I may have a solution for LightSquared that could solve their terrestrial LTE network problem.
Currently, LightSquared is trying to gain approval to deploy and operate a FD-LTE network on its L-Band spectrum. This L-Band is paired spectrum that has downlink allocated at 1525 to 1559 MHz and uplink allocated at 1625 to 1660MHz. It's in the lower section, the downlink section, where LightSquared is running into all the problems with interference with GPS.
In a FDD network, or in LightSquared's case, a FD-LTE network needs paired uplinks and downlinks. Both are needed to have two-way communication in a FDD network. However, LightSquared has run into what seems to be insurmountable resistance in the downlink section of its L-Band spectrum because of lingering GPS interference issues.
LightSquared has even offered to use only the lower portion of its downlink spectrum in order to offer more of a buffer from GPS broadcast transmissions. However, this also has not been an acceptable solution to the GPS industry, bureaucrats and many political leaders.
So here we are, LightSquared offers solution after solution that has not been accepted. And I won't get into the details and merits of LightSquared case. But what I do want to offer is a possible backup solution. TD-LTE.
TD-LTE a viable solution for LightSquared?
Everything that I have heard and read to date is that the interference issues are solely located on LightSquared's lower downlink bands. I've heard that the uplink bands are not an issue. So if 1625 to 1660MHz is available without interference, why not use that as unpaired spectrum utilizing TD-LTE?
This would not be a quick and easy solution to implement. The FCC will have to approve this unpaired spectrum for use with a TD-LTE network. Although, I can't think of why the FCC would object. It just would take a little bit to get the bloated and inefficient government moving quickly. However, the FCC may be willing to expedite, review and approve this given the difficulties LightSquared has encountered to date.
Moving to TD-LTE will cost LightSquared money and time up front. But it will likely be easier to get moving this route than the route they are going. And once things start looking good with the FCC, they would have a much easier go at raising money. It could seriously change the momentum for them, just by even making the decision.
I'm sure there are a lot of ramifications. Like getting the LTE consortium to prepare TD-LTE standards at these frequencies. There are probably a lot of device ramifications too. Some of their LTE wholesale partners may not be in favor of it, especially considering how it may affect their device plans.
However, Sprint, LightSquared's largest customer and network hoster is already planning on having TD-LTE capable devices in 2013 in conjunction with Clearwire. So this helps.
Maybe it's too late for LightSquared to make the switch? Maybe it's too complicated? Maybe it's too practical?
Or maybe, it just might work!