the wake of news that LightSquared had filed 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
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.