Lawmakers press FCC to give LightSquared new spectrum

Two senior lawmakers pressed the FCC to allocate different spectrum for LightSquared, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and has been barred by the FCC from launching an LTE network due to concerns over interference with GPS receivers.

According to a letter obtained by The Hill, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter dated March 29 to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asking the FCC to find new spectrum so that LightSquared could launch service. LightSquared has been battling to stay afloat ever since the FCC in February revoked conditional permission for the company to build a wholesale LTE network due to GPS interference concerns related to the 1.6 GHz L-band spectrum that it intended to employ.

FCC spokesman Tammy Sun declined to comment.

Government mandated testing showed that GPS receivers did not have sufficient filtering to block terrestrial signals on LighSquared's network. "Others have rightly pointed out that this situation raises the question of whether the agency should create receiver standards so that license holders operate only in their licensed spectrum," Kerry and Graham wrote. 

While they wrote they "understand" the FCC's decision, they also said the agency should come up with a solution. "In the short-term, we urge you to work with industry and the relevant federal agencies to find consensus on alternate spectrum for LightSquared's proposed network," they wrote. "Advancing LightSquared's network in a consensus manner would increase competition in the wireless broadband market and promote the public interest."

The FCC has taken comments on its decision to revoke LightSquared's waiver to launch terrestrial service, which was based on the premise that concerns over GPS interference would be resolved. LightSquared has blasted the FCC's decision and has hinted it may take legal action against the commission.

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) sent a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, asking the NTIA how much taxpayer money was spent to test GPS interference related to LightSquared's network. They also asked if the government would ask to be reimbursed for those costs.  

"If LightSquared does indeed declare bankruptcy, our concern is that the federal government will be unable to recoup the taxpayer dollars it has expended funding testing on LightSquared's network," Grassley and Turner wrote. An NTIA spokeswoman said the agency had received the letter and is reviewing it.

For more:
- see this The Hill article
- see this IDG News Service article

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