Defense bill amendment seeks to block LightSquared

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“Our military is heavily reliant on GPS capability to do its job, Turner said in a news release after the House passed the bill. “It is unacceptable for our armed forces to be put at greater risk or made less effective as a result of LightSquared’s operations. Congress and the Defense Department must have assurances from the FCC and this Administration that it will fully resolve the harmful interference issue prior to granting LightSquared final authorization to provide service. Our troops are depending on our government, and the FCC, to do the right thing.

His amendment requires the Defense Department to report to Congress every 90 days on the potential for GPS interference from LightSquared’s network.

But FCC officials said they have no intention of allowing LightSquared, or any company, to launch a service that will disrupt GPS.

“The suggestion that the FCC would do anything whatsoever to endanger U.S. troops is hitting below the belt, FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun wrote in an email. “The implication that the FCC has or would take any action to harm national security or public safety is, frankly, outrageous.

She said the FCC is especially sensitive to the needs of the military.

“Across the Commission and within the FCC Homeland Security and Public Safety Bureau, led by Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett (Ret.), veterans and reservists who are part of the professional staff work every day to support our national security and public safety,” she said.

But Turner and other Republicans have questioned why the FCC has allowed LightSquared to get as far as it has in the regulatory process.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has pledged to block President Obama’s two nominees to fill FCC vacancies until the agency releases internal documents related to its review of LightSquared.

In September, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) accused President Obama of “crony capitalism” for allegedly giving favor to his political supporters, pointing to LightSquared’s primary investor, Philip Falcone.

Falcone, who has donated thousands of dollars to both Democrats and Republicans in recent years, said he is a registered Republican and has denied any attempts to influence the process through political connections.

Although LightSquared has modified its plan to address the GPS problem, preliminary government tests released Wednesday revealed there are still widespread interference issues.