Friday, December 23, 2011
THE FREAK NEXT DOOR: LIGHTSQUARED'S POLITICAL EFFORTS DOOMED TO FAILURE? --- TURNER STATEMENT SAYS LS APPROVAL "PROHIBITED BY OUR LEGISLATION"
LIGHTSQUARED'S POLITICAL EFFORTS DOOMED TO FAILURE? --- TURNER STATEMENT SAYS LS APPROVAL "PROHIBITED BY OUR LEGISLATION"
DECEMBER 22, 2011 BY ED MORRISSEY
Over the last couple of weeks, I have written several times about LightSquared’s efforts to leverage its political connections into building a cell-phone and wireless broadband Internet connection on the cheap, but this story may come to a sudden halt whether LightSquared or its friends in the White House wish it or not. In my column for The Fiscal Times today, I introduce the controversy to TFT’s readers, but also break a little news. The decision by Barack Obama to sign the National Defense Authorization Act will bar LightSquared and the FCC from pursuing their project for the next two years, at least:
Be sure to read it all, especially if you need to catch up to the story.
As I noted in the previous post, Obama plans to sign the NDAA with this language in the next couple of days, albeit with a signing statement on an unrelated issue. That hasn’t kept LightSquared and its parent, the hedge-fund Harbinger that’s currently under SEC investigation for potential fraud and market manipulation, from trying to win politically what it couldn’t technologically. They have begun a Facebook blitz that links to every sympathetic article, and puts up odd assertions like this: “Today there are twice as many mobile-broadband as fixed broadband subscriptions. We need to find a wireless solution!” Well, if we do have twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed-point subscriptions, doesn’t that make the argument that we already have plenty of wireless solutions available? The mobile customers aren’t moving around with really long wires, after all.
Speaking of sympathetic pieces, this Forbes article lamenting the fact that “Washington” has killed LightSquared really needs a fact check:
That “assumption” was the FCC’s own spectrum allocation plan, which restricted the frequencies “next door” to low-power satellite communications for this very reason. Instead of buying frequencies in a part of the spectrum planned for ground-based telecommunication, LightSquared tried to get the FCC to waive the power restrictions, a decision that would have saved them billions of dollars, as Forbes notes:
No, broadcasters cannot do “pretty much whatever they want” with their licenses. They are restricted by power output and transmission type, as anyone who has held an FCC radio license either commercially or otherwise knows. If that were true, then Falcone wouldn’t have had to get the waiver at all. The FCC imposes those restrictions for the very reason at stake here, which is to make sure one broadcaster doesn’t interfere with another’s services.
Nor does Forbes do a very good job of dot connecting:
In other words, having gotten a $15 billion advantage over their potential competitors, Forbes wants to argue that a $50 million investment somehow balances the equation. I’m pretty sure they’re better at math than this at Forbes. And the point still remains that the GPS industry, including military and commercial aviation systems, has millions and millions of units in the field, the vast majority of which will fail if LightSquared manages to get FCC approval for its system, which has failed the NTIA testing on which it was conditioned. That was a risk that Falcone knew before sinking this money into the LightSquared venture, and the remedy that Forbes seems to champion in this piece is the obsolescence of millions of general-purpose, military, and aviation GPS systems in order to allow LightSquared to build a cell-phone network on the cheap, by shifting the cost of the obsolescence onto consumers and the government.
Thankfully, Congress seems to have headed this off with the NDAA, but that doesn’t lessen the need to discover what the FCC was thinking — or what it was told — when they issued the conditional waiver in the first place?
READ MORE: HOTAIR.COM
Posted by Eileen at 7:30 PM