Republicans Want More ‘Answers' From FCC On LightSquared
Upton, Walden, Stearns issue statement asking whether FCC's own objections led to "sloppy process"
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/15/2012 4:40:48 PMfiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, the Republican leadership on the House Energy & Commerce Committee called for more "answers" from the FCC on the conditional waiver it granted the company.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) issued a statement Tuesday, which also came one day before all five of the FCC's commissioners are scheduled to testify in a Senate Commerce Committed oversight hearing, where the LightSquared issue could also come up.
"Several months ago, the committee requested more information on the interference dispute between LightSquared and GPS to better understand the actions taken by the FCC in approving the deployment of a terrestrial network using a license originally granted for satellite service," they said in the statement. "In addition to the broader broadband implications, the FCC's rushed process resulted in special waivers and conditions and billions of wasted dollars. Now, more than ever, we need to get to the bottom of how we got this far down a dead-end road. There are many unanswered questions, specifically about whether the FCC's own objectives led to sloppy process. We are continuing to examine the information we've received so far to determine what happened and how it can be avoided in the future."
The FCC has released two tranches of documents totaling thousands of pages. That release was partly responsible for freeing up a hold on two of the FCC commissioners, Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel, who were sworn in Monday.
The FCC granted the waiver to LightSquared in hopes of promoting a wholesale wireless broadband competitor to Verizon, AT&T and others. But the waiver was always conditioned on the service not interfering with GPS. That industry, joined by numerous government agencies--DOD powerfully among them -- concluded there was no way the high-powered terrestrial service could be accommodated in a band adjacent to sensitive GPS receivers. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration agreed, and the FCC has moved to rescind the waiver.
Meanwhile, LIghtSquared invested billions, banking that the GPS hurdles would be cleared. It maintains it will continue to try to resolve it regulatory issues while getting the "breathing room" of reorganization under chapter 11.
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