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Congress

Former Lawmakers Join LightSquared Program

July 7, 2011

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has signed on with LightSquared, the embattled telecom startup that's seeking to build a wholesale, nationwide wireless network.

Dorgan, as well as former Reps. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., and Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas, will join an advisory board for a new LightSquared program called the Empower Rural America Initiative, the company announced Thursday.

LightSquared recently scaled back its plans after tests showed that the company's proposed network would interfere with global positioning systems. In a letter released Thursday, the Defense and Transportation departments asked the Federal Communications Commission to withhold approval for LightSquared's network.

"The departments continue to support the National Broadband Plan, but
cannot do so at the expense of a global, ubiquitous utility such as the
Global Positioning System," reads the statement from the National Coordination Office for Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing. "The departments encourage further assessment of any alternative spectrum and/or signal configuration plans."

Lightsquared says the Empower Rural America Initiative will aim to resolve some of those issues and expand wireless coverage in underserved areas, according to LightSquared.

"Let's work to find solutions that will give farmers the accurate GPS signals and advanced wireless and broadband services available to rural America," Nethercutt said in a statement. "They shouldn't be mutually exclusive goals."

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