FCC considering ‘all options' to save bankrupt tech company LightSquared

A top official at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told a Republican congressman that the agency is still considering ways to save LightSquared's plan for a high-speed wireless network.

The company invested billions of dollars in plans for a nationwide 4G network, but the FCC moved to block the network earlier this year over concerns it would interfere with GPS devices.

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In a letter sent last month that was obtained by The Hill, Mindel De La Torre, the chief of the FCC's International Bureau, told Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) the agency is "continuing to consider all options for addressing this [interference] issue."

LightSquared filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday due to the regulatory obstacles facing their business. Company officials said the move would help fend off creditors as it tries to find a solution for its network.

LightSquared and others have suggested that the FCC should move the company to a new band of radio frequency spectrum farther away from the GPS band. In the letter, De La Torre said no other spectrum bands are "immediately apparent as suitable alternatives" and that such a move would be a departure from the FCC's standard procedures.

But she said moving LightSquared to new spectrum would be possible if the FCC determined it would be in the public's interest.

The letter was a response to a list of questions Duncan had forwarded to the FCC from one of his constituents.

Republican lawmakers have accused the FCC of mishandling its review of LightSquared and taking too long to identify the GPS interference problem. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) held up President Obama's two FCC nominees for months in an effort to obtain internal FCC documents on LightSquared.

In a statement after LightSquared announced its bankruptcy, a group of House Republicans said the FCC's "rushed review" cost investors billions.

The lawmakers also questioned whether the "FCC’s own objectives led to sloppy process."

The FCC has denied giving LightSquared any special treatment, but expanding wireless Internet access is a top priority for the agency under Chairman Julius Genachowski.

In a filing with the FCC this week, LightSquared revealed that company representatives had met with senior FCC officials the day after the company had filed for bankruptcy.

In the meeting, LightSquared suggested new bands of spectrum that would avoid the interference problem. One option would be for LightSquared to operate its network on frequencies currently used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor weather patterns.

The company said its goal is to "to fully deploy its network on spectrum comparable to any portion of its current [spectrum holdings]."