Point of Beginning

Industry Urges FCC to Rescind LightSquared's Waiver

March 2, 2011

On March 1, LightSquared announced they and the U.S. GPS Industry Council (USGIC), working cooperatively, issued their first joint filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday, Feb. 25.

LightSquared said the filing outlined the key milestones for the overall analyses that they plan to conduct together and that the next report, to be filed in March, would provide the FCC with details about test plans and procedures.

However, information obtained from the Coalition to Save Our GPS indicates that documents filed by the USGIC on Feb. 25 included an Application for Review. The summary of this review states, in part, “The Commission must reverse and vacate the International Bureau’s Order modifying LightSquared Subsidiary LLC’s L-Band mobile-satellite service (“MSS”) license because the Waiver Order is in conflict with statute, regulation, case precedent and established Commission policy. … If allowed to stand, the Waiver Order’s terms will threaten the operation of millions of Global Positioning System (“GPS”) receivers.” The application urges that the order “be reversed and vacated.”

According to Howard Symons, legal counsel to Trimble, “The filing by the GPS Industry Council highlights serious legal problems with the FCC Bureau’s handling of LightSquared’s petition. By approving the waiver first and studying the interference risks after, the FCC reversed the normal order. While clearly implied in the order, the FCC also failed to explicitly state the normal ground rules that any investments by LightSquared in the interim are at LightSquared’s own risk.”

Other challenges to the LightSquared ATC waiver order were also filed on Feb. 25, including one by ACSM that notes “the Order is legally and procedurally unsound, and demanding of review and correction by the full Commission.” This filing follows a letter that was submitted to the FCC chairman on Feb. 7 by MAPPS, the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors, urging the commission to “terminate review of this application and incorporate it within the current MSS Broadband NPRM/ROI ET Docket No. 10-142 in order to provide adequate opportunity for public comment and openly reviewed analyses.”

It remains to be seen whether the FCC will act accordingly.