Grassley Slams FCC on Senate Floor Over LightSquared

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) took to the Senate floor
Tuesday to criticize the FCC over the waiver it initially issued to
LightSquared, and over the documents it did not initially release about how
that waiver was granted.

According to a copy of his floor speech, Grassley covered a
lot of bases.

  • He said he was pleased that FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and
    Jessica Rosenworcel had been confirmed -- he had blocked the nominations over
    what he said was the FCC's "stubborn refusal" to turn over documents
    to him.
  • He criticized lobbying at the FCC in favor of the waiver.
  • He criticized the FCC for not acceding to his request for documents.
  • He praised Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) for "personally pressing"
    the FCC to release documents.
  • He said that the FCC was one of the worst agencies when it came to providing
    documents to Congress.
  • He said Congress has so far received 8,000 internal documents, with 7,000 more
    on their way.

Grassley said the next step will be "asking some hard
questions of the key FCC personnel who approved the LightSquared waiver."

The FCC granted LightSquared a waiver to use satellite
spectrum for terrestrial service, always conditioned on not interfering with
GPS signals in the adjacent band. It did so, officials have explained, because
it wanted to promote more flexible use of spectrum and price and service
competition to dominant wireless broadband providers.

LightSquared proposed launching a wholesale wireless
broadband network, but the FCC was convinced that the GPS interference issues
were not resolvable in the near term and has moved to rescind the waiver, while
at the same time proposing to allow Dish to use some satellite spectrum for
terrestrial wireless broadband -- it has no similar GPS interference issues.

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.