House Releases LightSquared Documents

Email Exchanges Subject of September Hearing on FCC's Handling of Waiver Request

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has released documents, including email exchanges, it collected from the FCC as part of the committee's investigation of LightSquared.

The FCC granted LightSquared a waiver of its rules so that the company could use its satellite spectrum for a terrestrial, wholesale wireless broadband service in competition to AT&T, Verizon and others. But the FCC eventually suspended that waiver over so-far unresolved GPS interference issues affecting navigation, defense and other sectors.

The documents were the subject of a Sept. 21 hearing on the waiver process at which FCC staffers got tough questioning but no smoking guns from the FCC documents were proffered.

Republicans were concerned about short comment periods on some of the LightSquared decisions, and that the government might be setting a precedent that invoking public safety would unnecessarily foreclose spectrum debates going forward.

One of the email exchanges in the just-released documents is between officials in the Wireless and International bureaus talking about whether a three-day extension rather than a requested 7-day extension on one deadline would appear like the FCC was "ramming this through" on behalf of LightSquared, and that granting the full 7-day extension for comment, as CTIA: The Wireless Association had requested, would save the FCC from more criticism.

The FCC ultimately decided on three days in order to meet its timetable for release of an order allowing LightSquared to use its satellite spectrum for terrestrial service.