Tue, Apr 17, 2012
Others Question Costs Of Investigations
A group of four lawmakers has sent a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski urging him to find a solution for LightSquared that will allow the company to move forward with its plans for a nationwide 4G LTE network.
Two Republicans, Brian Bilbray of California and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, joined two Democrats, Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly of Virginia, in sending the letter, which was obtained by The Hill. They say that LightSquared's plan would increase competition resulting in lower consumer prices for wireless connectivity, and that discounting the company's multi-billion dollar investment would "ignore a decade of regulatory rules and orders on which this business relied in building their model."
The group of four urges the FCC to "examine all possibilities" that would allow LightSquared to move forward, which would include the allocation of new spectrum in which the company could operate.
The sticking point in granting the authorization was the inability of existing GPS receivers used by countless transportation interests to filter out the strong signals from LightSquared's proposed terrestrial towers on adjacent frequencies. The company said the GPS industry was to blame for not building receivers that would be sensitive to those nearby signals. But the company was also proposing to place high-powered terrestrial signals on frequencies which are reserved for use by satellites, which appear on the Earth's surface at much lower power levels.
In a related development, two other lawmakers, Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and Ohio Republican Congressman Michael Turner, are concerned that a declaration of bankruptcy by LightSquared would mean the federal government would be on the hook to pay for all of the interference studies conducted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), according to a report in PC World. They said they are concerned about the appearance of preferential treatment for LightSquared because of the political contributions made by the company's owners to the Obama campaign. "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.
The two lawmakers have reportedly asked the FCC to look for other spectrum on which LightSquared could operate, but any spectrum-swap could take years to accomplish and would involve major regulatory hurdles, according to industry observers.
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