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Grassley Still Plans to Block FCC Nominees

A day before the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote on the nominations of FCC commissioner nominees Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) continued to pledge to block those nominations if they are approved and teed up for a full Senate vote, which otherwise could follow almost instantaneously.

Grassley's hold has nothing to do with the qualifications of the nominees, but instead with the FCC's refusal to turn over to him documents related to the waiver the FCC granted to LightSquared to launch a terrestrial wireless broadband network using satellite spectrum. A single senator can hold up nominations, and does not even have to make that public, though Sen. Grassley has made no secret of his.

The Senator will likely release a statement about that hold after the vote Thursday, according to his office, but "Sen. Grassley's planned hold stands," a staffer for the Senator told B&C/Multi Wednesday.

FCC approval of the LightSquared service is conditional on it not interfering with GPS, an issue the FCC is currently trying to resolve so that the company's wholesale offering can provide price and service competition in the wireless space.

LightSquared said Wednesday that independent testing shows that it is "well on its way" to resolving the issue of interference to sensitive GPS recievers from LightSquared in-band transmissions. It has already modified its proposal, planning to put more spectrum space between it and the GPS band at launch, cutting power and investing in a technological fix to the interference issue.

Grassley, who is concerned about the GPS impact of the company, wants to make sure that broadband deployment does not trump those GPS interference issues. Top FCC staffers have said that the commission will not allow the service to proceed without insuring it does not interfere with weather reporting and navigation and defense applications, all of which and more the GPS industry says could be compromised by LightSquared's high-powered transmissions.