The Washington Post reports that the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] is poised to grant Reston, Va.-based LightSquared a crucial waiver Jan. 26 “that would pave the way for the firm to create a mobile network offering affordable broadband service based on satellite signals.”

      “FCC officials say they see LightSquared’s proposal as a way to spur competition in the sector and have already granted an overall operating license to the firm.

       “‘This is a promising opportunity to promote mobile broadband,’ said a FCC senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the waiver had not been formally approved. ‘LightSquared would be a new competitor and entrant into mobile broadband with new sources of capital and a new kind of business model that consumers find appealing.’

      “If granted, the waiver would allow LightSquared to provide wireless broadband access without also having to sell satellite service. Such an exemption is key to LightSquared’s ability to attract business customers who desire Web access but don’t want to spend extra to lease satellite connections.”

Of course, not everyone is thrilled at the prospects of LightSquared offering a terrestrial-only phone. The  U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration, backed by the U.S. Department of Defense, on Jan. 12 petitioned the FCC to deny LightSquare’s waiver request on the grounds that the service might interfere with GPS signals, among  other problems.