LightSquared: Money Talks GPS

I’ve grown to know that my hopeful outlook on the world seems more than a little naïve; accurate for the long-term but rarely profitable in the short term.The Christmas season’s Hallmark specials and other heart-rending television and radio presentations serve to exacerbate that feeling of frustration.

Philip Falcone
Philip Falcone

This year’s Scrooge character is played by Hedge-fund manager venture capitalist Philip Falcone, Senior Managing Director of the Harbinger Capital Partners® Funds, and his outfit called LightSquared. They hope to make good on the $14,000,000,000 investment in LightSquared Inc. One hopes the current reality show will play out in similar fashion to Charles Dickens’s 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol in which Scrooge is a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The visitations brought about a change of heart redeeming him and bringing good will to the end of the story. We can hope…

Perhaps the Ghost of Christmas Past will prove to be the SEC. “Wells Notices” recently delivered to Phillip Falcone and other key executives of Harbinger Capital Partners LLC hedge fund. “Wells Notices” are usually sent to a target for fraud charges by the Securities & Exchange Commission  before the Justice Department launches a case. An indictment of Mr. Falcone will keep on the front pages stories of crony capital, White House pay-to-play donations in support of the $14 billion use part of the U.S. Global Positioning System’s bandwidth by Falcone’s start-up company, LightSquared.

The Ghost of Christmas Present may be played by GPS users and the FCC. The U.S. regulators’ draft report says that LightSquared interferes with up to 75% of the GPS equipment used in tests; “millions of fielded GPS units are not compatible.” It states “LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to majority of GPS receivers tested” and that “no additional testing is required to confirm harmful interference exists.” It was this ghost who warned Scrooge of the evils of Ignorance and Want. Ignorant and desirous mobs trained Pavlovian-like to be compliant consumers are indeed evils of the present.

If the political game were played “according to Hoyle” LightSquared must prove that its network is nearly perfect in avoiding interference with global-positioning devices. The November deadline for federal regulators to finish their interference tests, has come and gone amid warnings of devastating interference by GPS experts, users and manufacturers. Company officials say their network won’t disrupt other users of the radio spectrum (supposedly public property).

I think the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is yet to be cast. One may hope the casting director is as artful as was the writer, for it was this ghost who may have had the greatest effect on the story book Scrooge, causing his redemptive change of heart.

It is up to you dear readers, you and I, to play the other roles; Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, Belle and his nephew. Holding up good example and resistance to greed when it is evil is the duty of us all.

Merry Christmas! … “God bless us, every one!”