U.S. Lawmakers Seek LightSquared Test Tab

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Two Republican members of Congress are asking the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to determine how much taxpayer money was spent conducting GPS interference tests on the proposed LightSquared satellite-terrestrial broadband network.

The Federal Communications Commission in February revoked Reston, Va.-based LightSquared’s provisional operating license to build out its terrestrial L-band network after tests showed that the company’s terrestrial towers would interfere with GPS positioning, navigation and timing signals. LightSquared has challenged the accuracy of the tests.

LightSquared laid off 45 percent of its work force in late February and missed a $56.25 million spectrum-sharing payment to satellite fleet operator Inmarsat around the same time. In early April, Philip Falcone, whose hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners has invested approximately $3 billion in LightSquared, told Reuters he was contemplating having the startup file for bankruptcy.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) on April 10 wrote NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling requesting a tally of how much money the federal government spent on interference testing and how many government employees were involved in the efforts.

“If LightSquared does indeed declare bankruptcy, our concern is that the Federal government will be unable to recoup the taxpayer dollars it has expended funding testing on LightSquared’s network,” Grassley and Turner wrote, according to a copy of the letter the lawmakers posted on their websites.

The lawmakers gave the NTIA an April 19 deadline for responding to their query.

 

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