FCC Won't Enforce Build-Out Requirements on LightSquared

The FCC has agreed not to hold LightSquared to build-out
conditions on a terrestrial mobile broadband network, which seems only fair
since the FCC is not currently allowing it to operate the network.

"We find LightSquared is unable to meet the specific
build-out requirements associated with its proposed terrestrial network because
its ability to deploy is constrained by unresolved interference concerns with
respect to certain Global Positioning Service (GPS) users operating in adjacent
bands," said the FCC in a decision published Friday.

On condition of Harbinger Capital Partners purchase of a
controlling interest in LightSquared's Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) L-Band
licenses -- the spectrum it wants to use for the network -- was that it provide
terrestrial coverage to at least 100 million people in the U.S. by the end of
this month. Clearly that is not going to happen, thanks to the FCC hold on the

The other deadlines -- terrestrial coverage to at least 145
million U.S. residents by Dec. 31, 2013, and to at least 260 million by Dec.
31, 2015, -- depends on whether the FCC accepts the latest proposal.

In light of the GPS interference issues, the FCC put a hold
on a waiver it extended LightSquared that would have allowed the company to use
its satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband. And while LightSquared has
modified its proposal to attempt to resolve the GPS issues -- including by not
using the portion of spectrum closest to GPS -- the FCC pointed out Friday that
that request was not "ripe for action" and that a decision would not
come in time, in any event, to allow the company to meet the build-out
conditions prefaced on the waiver.

The FCC refused to weigh in on whether LightSquared would
ever be able to operate using its current spectrum, saying it was stillconsidering the company's modified proposal.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.