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Congress

House Panel Joins Push For LightSquared Documents

February 28, 2012

GOP leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies on Tuesday for correspondence between them and the wireless company LightSquared.

The FCC says it will block LightSquared's plans because they could interfere with global positioning systems. But Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., say the prolonged controversy over LightSquared's plans call the federal process into question.

In a letter to the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the interagency National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing, and the Defense Department, the three lawmakers ask for documentation of any communication with LightSquared, its corporate predecessors and financial backers, and GPS manufacturers.

"As the committee with jurisdiction over federal communications policy, committee members have been monitoring the progress of the proposed deployment of the broadband network," the committee said in a statement. "However, with the recent tentative decision to limit LightSquared's license to satellite-based service, there remain many unanswered questions, particularly whether the processes used by the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the interagency National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing were appropriate."

In the Senate, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has blocked votes on two nominees to the FCC because he says the agency and LightSquared have not provided the information he want. Staffers for Grassley and the Senate Commerce Committee met on Monday to discuss the standoff, but no agreement was reached, according to Senate aides.

"The FCC said it wouldn't give internal documents about LightSquared to any members of Congress except the chairmen of the two committees that oversee the FCC," Grassley said in a statement. "Now one of those two committee chairmen is asking for internal documents. It will be hard for the agency to ignore this request."

On Tuesday the fallout from the FCC's decision continued as LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja announced his resignation. LightSquared says it will still try to overcome the interference problem.

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