Grassley Undecided On Whether There is Technical Fix to LightSquared

Posted on September 30, 2011


Cautions company not to use him to try and score ‘political points’
John Eggerton — Broadcasting & Cable, 9/29/2011 9:00:13 PM

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says he has not taken a position on whether there is a technical fix to LightSquared’s GPS problems, but simply wants the FCC to tell him whether the taxpayers will be footing the bill. He also warned the company not to use him to further their arguments.

That came after Grassley’s letter to the FCC Thursday prompted LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja to issue a statement using that letter to buttress its case that there was a technical fix. “We’re gratified that Senator Grassley has recognized something that the GPS industry has denied for months,” he said. “The industry tried to say that there was no technical or engineering fix to the interference problem. They said there was no way to build a filter or to coexist with LightSquared’s network. They said it would take ten years and tens of billions of dollars to research and find a solution. The GPS industry has now been proven wrong on every level. In a matter of months, LightSquared and the private marketplace have produced a solution using current technology and materials.”

Grassley’s office responded to Ahuja with the following statement: “Senator Grassley is not taking a position on whether there is or is not a technical fix to LightSquared’s interference problem. He simply is asking the FCC whether the taxpayers should be left holding the bag regarding a potential fix, especially given that such a potential fix might cost billions of dollars. LightSquared shouldn’t misrepresent Senator Grassley’s words in an attempt to score political points.”

Prompting the back-and-forth was Grassley’s letter to Grassley that was primarily taking the FCC to task for apparently not taking sufficient steps to protect taxpayers and “letting LightSquared off the hook” regarding the cost of retrofitting GPS receivers to block Lightsquared transmissions.

The FCC gave LightSquared a conditional waiver to to use its satellite spectrum for a terrestrial 4g Wireless network. The condition was that it not interfere with GPS. The FCC has said there must be more testing before LightSquared can be allowed to proceed.

About the closest the Grassley letter comes to conceding a technical fix is saying that “even if LightSquared is correct and …others are wrong, the FCC appears to have taken no steps to apportion who will pay to retrofit government GPS receivers in the event that LightSquared is allowed the opportunity to build a terrestrial 4G network.”

Grassley gave the FCC until Oct. 13 to answer the following questions:

“Should the FCC find that LightSquared has fully satisfied all interference concerns, who will pay to retrofit all privately-owned GPS receivers with filters?
“Has the FCC sought independent estimates from federal agencies and state and local governments on the cost of retrofitting their GPS devices? If not, why not?”

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