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Sailors Unite Against Harbinger Capital-Backed LightSquared

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As you know, Harbinger Capital currently has a big bet going on a wireless company called LightSquared. Should it succeed, Phil Falcone will make billions and his investors will receive the triple digit returns they scored on subprime. Should it fail...we don't even want to go there but the victims will not be faceless and include but are certainly not limited to Lisa Falcone's outfits (people in and of themselves) and the family's cabaret performing pig. So far, unfortunately, LightSquared, illiquid shares of which were recently awarded to redemption-seeking investors, has encountered a few bumps in the road (as one often does when one is doing groundbreaking, visionary-esque work). Last month, it was reported that government tests indicated the company would not only cause “devastating interference” to all GPS devices in range but, according to the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Systems Engineering Forum, would “degrade global-positioning system navigation devices that are nearby and as far away as outer space.” LightSquared responded by promising “a workable solution for the small number” of GPS devices “that may be at risk,” but now it seems the venture has bigger problems than Mars on its hands-- the boating community, which is pissed.

From: BoatU.S. Government Affairs
Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 6:08 PM
Subject: Will your GPS work when you need it? Act Now!

Dear BoatU.S. Member,

As a result of a new proposal to use radio bandwidth right next to the existing GPS service, the future reliability of the GPS system across the United States is now in question. We encourage you to contact the FCC during a short 30-day public comment period, to help them understand the public’s need for continued, reliable GPS signals for safe navigation on boats, in cars, and for so many other daily uses.

Background: Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave conditional approval to a private company, LightSquared, to begin a nationwide broadband service adjacent to the radio spectrum used for GPS. After concerns from user groups (including BoatU.S.), the FCC required significant testing and a report for potential conflicts with aviation, cellular, navigation, and four other GPS uses before this proposal could move forward. In that June 30th report the navigation sub-team concluded “that all phases of the LightSquared deployment plan will result in widespread harmful interference to GPS signals and service and that mitigation is not possible.”

In 2010 the US Coast Guard shut down Loran, leaving mariners using electronic navigation to rely solely on GPS. Now, this fast-moving threat to GPS could pull the plug on our ability to safel navigate within the U.S. Public comments on LightSquared’s proposal will be taken until Saturday, July 30, 2011. Following that, the FCC will make a determination on what this private company can do with this vital public resource.

We ask that you take a minute today, as a boater and a citizen, to request that the FCC reject the proposed LightSquared plan to deploy a private nationwide broadband service that can cripple the nation’s GPS systems. Because it is not easy to find your way through the FCC’s comment web forms, we suggest you follow the link below. Our software will help you easily construct a letter, which will be electronically delivered to your Members of Congress and BoatU.S. We will then print your letter and hand deliver it to the FCC before they close on Friday, July 29th.

If you have any additional questions, please contact BoatU.S. Government Affairs at

Thank you for being a BoatU.S. Member!

This is clearly a tough one that even those with the most at stake (investors, Phil, Wil) may not know how to respond to. As a seasoned sailor, can Wilbur really say he doesn't feel conflicted about wanting LightSquared to be a success while knowing he could be indirectly responsible for someone being lost at sea, or drowning on a sinking ship? Can he live with that kind of blood on his hands?