OVERNIGHT TECH: FCC wants more testing of LightSquared

THE LEDE: Wireless startup LightSquared will need to conduct more testing of its network to determine if it interferes with Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, the Federal Communications Commission said in a notice Tuesday.

"Additional targeted testing is needed to ensure that any potential commercial terrestrial services offered by LightSquared will not cause harmful interference to GPS operations," the FCC wrote.

LightSquared plans to provide wholesale broadband service nationwide through a network of satellites and land-based cell towers, but its plan ran into trouble when tests earlier this year revealed it interferes with GPS devices.

GPS is considered vital to public safety because because it is used by emergency responders, airplane navigators and the military.

In response to the interference problems, LightSquared agreed to operate its land-based cell towers on only the lower 10 MHz of its spectrum.

"The results thus far from the testing using the lower 10 MHz showed significant improvement compared to tests of the upper 10 MHz, although there continue to be interference concerns, e.g., with certain types of high precision GPS receivers, including devices used in national security and aviation applications," the FCC wrote in its notice. "Additional tests are therefore necessary."

LightSquared needs FCC approval before it can launch its network.

Rockefeller pushes for public safety network: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said a nationwide wireless broadband network for first-responders is "long past due" in a statement sent to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday.

Rockefeller had sought to pass the public-safety network into law before the 10th anniversary of 9/11 attacks. His bill passed his Commerce Committee but has not come up for a vote in the full Senate. 

“It is not too late," Rockefeller said in a statement for a hearing on whether America has become safer in the years since the terrorist attacks.

"Ten years later, as we honor the tremendous bravery of our public safety officials, it is long past due to provide them with the communications tools they need to do their jobs," Rockefeller said. "But too often they lack the interoperable networks that are essential to providing an effective response in emergencies. They lack the ability to communicate with one another, with other agencies, and across city and state lines. This hampers our ability to respond to a crisis. Whether that crisis is a terrorist attack or natural disaster, it puts lives in unnecessary danger." 

His bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), would allocate the D Block of spectrum to public-safety agencies and fund the creation of a nationwide public safety network.

The network would allow first-responders from different jurisdictions to communicate during emergencies and to transmit video and data in real-time.

Google continues to dominate search market: Google led all other search engines with 64.8 percent of searches in August, according to comScore. Its share was down only slightly from 65.1 percent in July. Yahoo came in second, with 16.3 percent.

Update: A Google spokeswoman notes Microsoft's Bing search engine now powers Yahoo searches. The combined share of Microsoft and Yahoo was 31 percent in August.

On Tap Wednesday:

The House Financial Services Committee's Financial Institutions subpanel will hold a 10 a.m. hearing on cybersecurity and threats to the financial sector. Financial firms are likely to be covered under any comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, such as the proposal unveiled by the White House in March. A Justice Department official indicated at a hearing last week that the administration is willing to consider instituting penalties for critical infrastructure firms that don't comply with DHS security standards, but none are included in the plan as released.

The House Judiciary's Immigration Policy subcommittee will hold a hearing after lunch on the investor visa program, which has been pushed as a job-creation measure. Investors and tech firms have pushed for Congress to relax immigration restrictions for entrepreneurs and investors, and lawmakers have shown some willingness if said applicants are able to create high-paying tech-sector jobs in the U.S.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will attend a Facebook reception on the social-networking site's efforts to keep children safe. The event, titled, "Facebook Safety: Back to School, Back to Basics," will take place at the Capitol Visitor Center at 4:30 p.m.


The House Judiciary Committee will mark up a bill from Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on Thursday morning that would require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify, the Department of Homeland Security system that checks whether new hires are eligible to work in the United States.

IBM demonstrated at the National Press Club on Tuesday how doctors can use its Watson supercomputer to diagnose and treat patients.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told cable and satellite providers to begin offering more energy-efficient devices or face possible federal regulation in a letter last week.

Facebook hired Erin Egan, Louisa Terrell and Erika Mann to its public policy team as the social-media giant continues to expand its Washington presence ahead of the upcoming debate on comprehensive privacy legislation. 

The Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group, urged the debt supercommittee on Tuesday to include spectrum auctions in the deficit-reduction plan it will send to Congress.

--This post was updated on Sept. 14 at 11:37 a.m.