AT&T, Verizon Interfering With LightSquared: Phil Falcone
Special to CNBC.com
Hedge-fund manager Phil Falcone accused AT&T and Verizon Communications of interfering with LightSquared, a broadband startup in which he has invested about $3 billion.
In a television interview with CNBC Thursday, he said it was "very disappointing" AT&T, Verizon and other members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS are contacting local elected officials to try and block LightSquared from providing a fourth-generation wireless network in rural areas.
On the coalition's website, it claims LightSquared "plans to transmit ground-based radio signals that would be one billion or more times more powerful as received on earth than GPS's low-powered satellite-based signals, potentially causing severe interference impacting millions of GPS receivers—including those used by the federal agencies, state and local governments, first responders, airlines, mariners, civil engineering, construction and surveying, agriculture, and everyday consumers in their cars and on handheld devices."
Falcone, however, believes the coalition is not competing fairly. "They are doing a lot of things behind the scenes. They are trying to stamp out innovation," he said.
The Federal Communications Commission allowed LightSquared to start buying broadband spectrum in 2003, Falcone said. "We were mandated to build this network and now the GPS community is saying, 'They’re interfering with us'...[They] knew of this eight years ago. They knew we were going to build up this network," he said.
Falcone said the other companies "didn’t put the proper filtering on their devices. They are leaking into our highway. We’re not interfering with them They’re interfering with us."
Falcone said "99 percent of the problem" can be solved by LightSquared using a different part of the broadband spectrum. The Harbinger Capital founder said LightSquared owns two blocks of spectrum and it is the upper block that is causing the problem.
On a day when stock markets are falling, Falcone said he would avoid "knee-jerk" reactions and "absolutely" invest in America.
"One thing we have to look at is markets don’t always go up, they go down as well," he said. "The U.S. is still the most powerful and strongest market in the world. You have to pick your spots and wade into the water bit by bit."
There are opportunities, he added, but "you can never time the market and pick the top and pick the bottom. It’s impossible to do."
He wouldn't talk about the investigations involving his hedge fund, but said he "always prided myself on my integrity and honesty. That’s been the most difficult thing for me to deal with," adding, "I’ll get through this."