Lawmakers suggest military spectrum could go to LightSquared

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski this week urging him to find new radio spectrum for troubled wireless company LightSquared.

Phil Falcone and his hedge fund Harbinger Capital invested billions of dollars in LightSquared's plan to build a nationwide 4G network, but the FCC moved to block it earlier this year over fears it would interfere with GPS devices, which operate on nearby frequencies.

The company filed for bankruptcy last month, although it is still trying to find a way to get approval for its network. 

"In the absence of a viable technical solution that would allow LightSquared to use its own licensed spectrum, we believe a spectrum swap is the most resourceful and efficient way to quickly expand broadband access nationwide," wrote Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.), Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), who all serve on the Appropriations Committee.

The lawmakers asked Genachowski to conduct a "a thorough and thoughtful review" to determine if frequencies currently controlled by the Defense Department could be used for commercial broadband.

"We believe identifying and freeing up available DoD spectrum promotes the efficient use of a valuable resource and reaffirms the FCC’s commitment to move the U.S. closer to providing wireless broadband for all Americans," they wrote.

They also urged the FCC to "move swiftly" to identify other possible solutions that would allow LightSquared to launch its high-speed network.

Some Republicans have questioned whether the FCC showed inappropriate favoritism to LightSquared while taking too long to spot the GPS-interference problem.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) blocked a vote on President Obama's two FCC nominees for four months in a bid to force the agency to release internal documents on its review of the company. House Republicans have launched their own investigation of the case.

FCC officials have said they did not give LightSquared any special treatment, though expanding wireless Internet access is a top priority of the agency under Genachowski.