The Washington Post

LightSquared hires former lawmakers to get satellite plan off ground

LightSquared said Thursday its brought on two former federal lawmakers as advisers as the satellite broadband start-up tries to overcome obstacles to its network plans.

The firm, created by hedge fund investor Philip Falcone, said former senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and former representatives George Nethercutt of Washington and Charlie Stenholm of Texas have agreed to lead a program to find ways to bring its satellite-based LTE service to rural areas.

The move aligns with goals of the Obama administration and Federal Communications Commission to bring high-speed mobile Internet connections to all Americans within five years.

The FCC has touted LightSquared as a new competitor to wireless giants AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel.

But the company has hit a roadblock with a recent study that showed that its satellite network would interfere with global positioning system receivers used by airlines, military and construction workers.

LightSquared said its “Empower Rural America Initiative” would work with rural areas to adopt device filters and other techniques to avoid interference with GPS receivers.

The group would work with public safety officials in rural areas to use its satellite service during disasters.

“There is an overwhelming need for reliable wireless broadband for public safety, education, healthcare and economic development in rural America,” Dorgan said in a release.

Sen. Chuck Grassley( R-Iowa) last week probed the Federal Communications Commission for its handling of LightSquared's licensing process, which the GPS industry says was fast-tracked and should have been more carefully reviewed.


Lightsquared raised $265 million

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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