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Lawmakers On LightSquared: Maybe Another Time

February 15, 2012

It was a nice thought.

That was the reaction to news that federal regulators had concluded Tuesday night that LightSquared's proposed nationwide wireless network could not proceed.

"While I'm disappointed that the interference testing has shown LightSquared will not be able to move forward, we still have to continue to look for new and creative ways to drive competition and expand wireless broadband deployment across the country," said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

LightSquared originally sparked excitement over its innovative plan to offer a wholesale wireless service but its transmissions interfered with global positioning systems.
Enthusiasm faded as the fight between LightSquared and GPS manufacturers and users dragged on.

"It is very unfortunate that the engineering studies did not find a clear way forward to bring much needed spectrum to the public on a wholesale basis," said Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge. "While it is possible that a way forward may emerge from the comments in response to the FCC's public notice, it would appear that LightSquared will not fill this need for wholesale access any time soon."

Congress played a major role in pulling the controversy into the spotlight, but even opponents of LightSquared's plans said it would have been nice had the company found a way to solve the problems.

"Our position has always been that Lightsquared's plans should not be approved unless tests proved no interference for GPS devices," said House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo. "I hope that technology continues to be developed in a way that addresses the GPS interference concern on behalf of the many small businesses that rely on them, and that we can find a way to have a win-win on this issue."

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