FCC Gets Shout-Outs for LightSquared Reversal

Public Knowledge's Harold Feld says FCC needs to work on GPS receiver standards

The FCC got plenty of input Wednesday on its decision to start proceedings to revoke LightSquared's waiver and put its planned wireless broadband on indefinite hold.

Public Knowledge, like the FCC, had hoped a successful LightSquared would provide increased price and service competition in wireless broadband -- it was to have been a wholesale service -- was disappointed. "It is very unfortunate that the engineering studies did not find a clear way forward to bring much needed spectrum to the public on a wholesale basis," said Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld. "The number of contracts signed with LightSquared despite the doubts surrounding whether they would be able to provide service demonstrates the strong demand for some sort of non-discriminatory wholesale wireless service to support competition and innovation."

He said that since it did not look like LightSquared would be able to provide wholesale access anytime soon, the FCC needed to work on GPS receiver standards so that the spectrum LightSquared holds adjacent to GPS service could ultimately be used.

The FCC has signaled it agrees that receiver standards are needed. The reason the FCC did not allow LightSquared to use the waiver the FCC had granted it was that government agencies and ultimately the NTIA in a formal recommendation, signaled there was no way for the network to operate without interfering with sensitive GPS receivers involved in navigation, weather forecasting, defense applications and more.

"I am glad that the FCC has realized what our military leaders and Congress have been saying all along - LightSquared's proposed network will dangerously impair GPS receivers and our military's ability to train and operate," said Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "This responsible step by the FCC, albeit months late, is encouraging. I hope that they will continue this course and will not allow any harmful interference to our national security GPS network."

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) applauded the FCC decision. "Interference of the GPS signal would have cost American small businesses billions of dollars to retrofit their current devices - adding yet another significant cost burden that would cause more harm to our already unstable economy," he said.