LightSquared is slated to exit bankruptcy on May 31, and is required to have its future reorganization plan complete by July15.
Federal Communications Commission
Just when it seemed that LightSquared and its threat to GPS had finally faded away, following the February withdrawal of its operating licenses by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the company is back again, with new plans and, more surprisingly, a modest degree of FCC support.
Since the withdrawal of approval in February for LightSquared’s planned use of frequencies adjacent to those of GPS to set up a nationwide 4G mobile broadband network, things have recently taken an unexpected turn. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) withdrew LightSquared’s approval earlier this year after transmission tests revealed interference issues with GPS receivers.
LightSquared filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, explaining that it needs “breathing room” to resolve regulatory issues that have prevented it from building its planned 4G broadband wireless network.
Just when it seemed the LightSquared-GPS contest had run its course, a pair of latecomers–Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.)–wrote to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski proposing that the agency should now find a vacant block of radio spectrum in which LightSquared could launch another attempt at its nationwide Internet plan.
Recognizing that its plan to cover the nation with powerful Internet transmitters has failed, LightSquared has hired legal counsel, ostensibly to prepare for the possibility of suing those it now sees as the architects of its downfall. Its first target is expected to be the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Despite rising jubilation among the GPS community in the middle of last month that LightSquared had at last met its comeuppance, the would-be nationwide wireless broadband provider was not dead yet as this issue went to press. With its technical arguments virtually exhausted, LightSquared entered into a “Pleading Cycle” at the FCC on January 27, using what is likely its only lifeline.
On Tuesday the FCC rejected LightSquared’s plans for a 4G broadband network in the L-band frequency, following a final recommendation by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is a joint panel consisting of nine federal agencies.
LightSquared’s planned nationwide 4G broadband network got yet another reprieve from Sprint today. Last year, Sprint agreed to provide $15 billion to LightSquared for infrastructure needs, with one condition: LightSquared must obtain FCC approval by Dec. 31, 2011. The FCC didn’t come through–saying LightSquared has yet to prove its transmissions will not interfere with GPS signals–but last month Sprint extended its offer until the end of this month. And with barely 12 hours to spare, Sprint again extended this until mid-March.
One of the supreme ironies of the ongoing LightSquared saga is that the company’s efforts to promote its nationwide email initiative are not helped when emails about its own activities, written by U.S. government bureaucrats, become public under Freedom of Information legislation.