Senator Chuck Grassley, a vocal critic
of the FCC’s handling of LightSquared, says he will continue to bar two FCC
nominees from being confirmed despite the agency’s decision to block
The FCC said Tuesday it would void
LightSquared’s original waiver for a hybrid satellite-terrestrial LTE network
and indefinitely suspend its ancillary terrestrial component authority, which
allowed it to deploy base stations on the ground in addition to its satellite
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Republican
said Grassley will continue his hold on the nominees until the FCC fesses up to
why it granted LightSquared a conditional waiver for an LTE network in
satellite spectrum last January despite the NTIA’s concerns about GPS
“The agency put this project on a
fast track for approval with what appears to have been completely inadequate
technical research. After all of this
time and expense, still, no one outside of the agency knows why,” Grassley
said in a statement. “If we don’t find out how and why the FCC failed to
avoid this controversy, then it will keep operating as a closed shop instead of
the open, publicly accountable agency it should be.”
The FCC will operate with just three
acting commissioners until nominees Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai are
approved. Grassley’s objection is the primary barrier to their instatement, as
both Rosenworcel and Pai have received broad bipartisan support. The ban could
be surmounted by a cloture motion from Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
FCC officials have repeatedly declined
to meet with Grassley. The agency sometimes ignores lawmakers’ requests unless
they are made by the heads of the House Energy and Commerce Committee or the
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which have jurisdiction
over the FCC.
Grassley is the ranking Republican
member of the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee but does not hold
a seat on the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee.
Grassley claimed last month that
LightSquared’s main backer, Philip Falcone’s hedge fund Harbinger Capital
Partners, tried to bribe him into backing off his inquiry.
LightSquared has denied the allegations.
LightSquared has not issued any
statements after the FCC announced its decision, but maintained in earlier
comments that it “remains committed to finding a resolution with the
federal government and the GPS industry.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations