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Genachowski Defends FCC Role in LightSquared, GPS Interference Controversy in Letter to Senator

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Genachowski Defends FCC Role in LightSquared, GPS Interference Controversy in Reply to Senator
June 7, 2011

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A belated response from Julius Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman to Republican Senator Charles Grassley’s request for documents surrounding the LightSquared effort to broadcast near the GPS L1 band appears unlike to satisfy either Grassley or the GPS community.

Genachowski’s reply ignored the April 27 request from Grassley, the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for copies of all communications among LightSquared, Harbinger Capital Partners (the hedge fund controlled by Phillip Falcone that is backing the LightSquared move), and FCC employees. Instead, Genachowski's May 31 letter restated the FCC position that the plans for high-powered terrestrial transmissions in a band adjacent to GPS have been under way for years and long known to the GPS industry.

Grassley was one of 33 Senators who recently sent a letter to the FCC asking the agency to rescind its January 26 waiver allowing LightSquared to repurpose frequency licenses designated for use in a wholly ground-based network until LightSquared could “demonstrate non-interference of GPS.” In a June 6 video responding to questions from constituents, Grassley said, “We hope to get it settled one of two ways: either shut them [LightSquared} down or be adequately satisfied that it isn’t going to affect GPS in any other way. But I think it’s very difficult for me to be satisfied that GPS won’t be affected. . . .”

Noting that the LightSquared-led working group set up to investigate GPS interference concerns would report test results and recommendations to the commission by June 15, Genachowski wrote to Grassley, “The Commission and NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] . . . will establish a public comment cycle and give parties further opportunities to present their views.”

Nonetheless, the commission chairman signaled his own inclinations in the matter.

“I remain focused on ensuring that the Commission takes full advantage of the incredible economic opportunities that underutilized spectrum represents,” Genachowski wrote in closing. “This includes the opportunity presented by LightSquared, which if successfully realized, would result in billions of dollars of new private investment and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.”

Meanwhile, a June 1 commentary by LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja posted on The Hill website, branding GPS and GPS innovators as “obstructionist,” has drawn a long list of overwhelmingly denunciatory replies from viewers of the daily on-line newspaper. (A side note: watch for the LightSquared ads that appear among the rotating leaderboard and top-right banners on The Hill homepage.)

» Download a PDF of Senator Grassley's letter.

» Download a PDF of Julius Genachowski's reply.

Copyright © 2011 Gibbons Media & Research LLC, all rights reserved.

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