The Federal Communications Commission will turn
over more documents related to its grant of a waiver to LightSquared for a
national wholesale wireless broadband network. The FCC is in the process of
rescinding that waiver over GPS interference issues.
FCC has indicated we can expect additional documents in the coming weeks,"
said an Energy & Commerce Committee staffer. The FCC has already turned
over some 13,000 pages.
Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and other top committee Republicans asked for the
documents back in February, saying there were many unanswered questions about
how the waiver was granted, including why the FCC's conditional waiver was
granted on delegated authority, without a full commission vote; why the FCC
provided only a 20 day comment/reply comment cycle on the waiver; why the
waiver also included a provision preventing Verizon and AT&T from being
LightSquared customers (the FCC was trying to promote price and service
competition to those largest carriers), when the FCC realized that there would
be GPS interference from LightSquared's terrestrial
broadcasts in its satellite spectrum allocation and more.
document request has wider implications. Sen Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has a
hold on two nominees for open commission seats and has refused to lift it until
he gets access to FCC documents. The FCC would not give the documents to
Grassley because he is not the chair of a ranking committee, while Upton is. Upton has shared the first
round of documents with Grassley.
Grassley aide told B&C/Multi that
those 13,000 pages were all previously released to others under FOIA requests
and the hold stands until he gets more. A second FCC document drop at least
provides some hope that the hold might ultimately be lifted. Until then, said
the aide speaking on background, "There's nothing new here. Sen. Grassley
still wants to receive internal documents before lifting his hold on the
Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel are the Republican and Democratic nominees,
respectively, to the vacant seats that have left the FCC at only three
commissioners. Republican Meredith Attwell Baker exited to join Comcast last
spring, while Democrat Michael Copps retired at the end of December.
Pai and Rosenworcel sailed through their nomination hearings with bipartisan
shout-outs and are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate when/if the hold
is lifted, which Grassley has signaled will only happen when he gets more
internal documents about how the FCC made the decision to grant the waiver.