Sprint to LightSquared: You’ve got 30 days to get FCC approval or we walk

posted at 10:25 am on January 3, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

William Amos forwarded me this curious update to the Lightsquared saga, one that looks as though their partners are beginning to look elsewhere for their strategic planning.  On the heels of failing their NTIA tests and renewed opposition to an FCC variance from military, aviation, and commercial GPS users, Sprint gave LightSquared a 30-day extension to their agreement to get FCC approval for a commercial rollout:

Sprint Nextel Corp. said Sunday it gave billionaire Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Inc. wireless venture a 30-day extension to a Dec. 31 deadline to get Federal Communications Commission clearance to operate its network.

Getting FCC clearance is a condition of a 15-year fourth-generation spectrum-and-equipment-sharing accord between the two companies. LightSquared has said the Sprint accord will help it save $13 billion through the end of this decade.

LightSquared has been buffeted by criticism from lawmakers, the Defense Department and device manufacturers who say the company’s airwaves can jam global-positioning-system signals.

Why a 30-day extension?  That’s probably not enough time for the FCC to even consider the petition filed last month by LightSquared that essentially tells everyone using the current GPS technology to replace all of their equipment, let alone address the wrath of the Pentagon and the FAA if they do.   The collapse of LightSquared’s efforts will probably result in lawsuits against the FCC and as many others as LSQ’s lawyers will allow — unless LightSquared’s cash crunch puts the Harbinger subsidiary out of business first.  Sprint is likely playing defense, hoping that a small reprieve will demonstrate good faith when the inevitable occurs.

Besides, as I reported a couple of weeks ago, the FCC no longer has that discretion, at least not legally.  When Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Years Eve, he signed into law a section that specifically and explicitly prohibits the FCC from taking any action that interferes with current GPS services.  In fact, the FCC is now required by Section 913 to “ensure that the signals of Global Positioning System satellites can be received without interruption or interference.”  When Obama signed the NDAA, he attached a lengthy signing statement objecting to several provisions within it — but didn’t include one word of objection to Section 913 or its implications.  (Even if he did, signing statements don’t negate laws; they only provide evidence of intent at the time of signing in case of later court challenges.)

Sprint certainly has to know this, which means that their 30-day extension is just a pro forma act delaying the inevitable, with the likely purpose of distancing itself from liability from what will also inevitably follow.


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Oh snap! FIRST!

speekr on January 3, 2012 at 10:32 AM

If Congress were told that GlaxoSmithKlyne wanted to add to the water supply an agent that eliminated tooth decay but had the by-product of making Viagra ineffective, the discussion would be over.

mrmiji on January 3, 2012 at 10:37 AM

B S…should have run!

KOOLAID2 on January 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Glad that scam got shot down.

OldEnglish on January 3, 2012 at 10:46 AM

This better not interfere with The pResident’s golf game.

WhatNot on January 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Lightsquared needs to hire an investment genius stat. I hope they are literally picking up the phone right now and calling Jon Corzine.

NotCoach on January 3, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I like the way LightSquared rolls. I imagine their board meetings consist entirely of four letter words, fist bumps, and heavy drinking.

Falcone: “We can f-ing do this!”
General Counsel: “F yes we f-ing can!”
CEO: “We’re gonna take out the entire Global GPS network and get paid to do it!”
Finance Director: “H*** Yeah!”
COO: “Pass the mother-f-ing Jim Beam!”

CorporatePiggy on January 3, 2012 at 10:52 AM

What’s the problem here we can always just use the Chinese GPS right?

Kenosha Kid on January 3, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Buh bye

cmsinaz on January 3, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Glad that scam got shot down.

OldEnglish on January 3, 2012 at 10:46 AM

And fortunately we didn’t give them a loan guarantee…yet. Perhaps a nice late Christmas gift to Obama donors the day before they declare bankruptcy via a fat loan guarantee?

NotCoach on January 3, 2012 at 10:56 AM

What page are we on now in the GOP/RNC ad strategies for 2012?

hillsoftx on January 3, 2012 at 10:58 AM

This has been a great story, Ed. Who knows how it would have wound up if you hadn’t kept it exposed to the light of day.

It’s almost over now.

jaime on January 3, 2012 at 10:59 AM

“Who cares if it works or not.Government contracts for 25 years.”
Dick Jones-Robo Cop

docflash on January 3, 2012 at 11:10 AM

CorporatePiggy on January 3, 2012 at 10:52 AM

That’s pretty good!

It certainly jives with my mental picture of LightSquared.

listens2glenn on January 3, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Lost in all this is our money. Where’s our dough?

Kissmygrits on January 3, 2012 at 11:20 AM

“ensure that the signals of Global Positioning System satellites can be received without interruption or interference.”

Obviously Obama just sees this as words on a paper. Now that he knows that GPS disabling is working, he can give LightSquared communication to his Civilian National Security Force and not have to worry about those pesky military people blocking his inevitable rise to Caesar Deus Rex America Unitum States.

LoganSix on January 3, 2012 at 11:36 AM

(Even if he did, signing statements don’t negate laws; they only provide evidence of intent at the time of signing in case of later court challenges.)

This is not really true. Any “intent” in question in a challenge to the law or its application would not apply to the executive but to Congressional intent. What the executive (yes, the small ‘e’ is intentional given who occupies the office) thinks does not make one whit of difference. Bush or Obama can say whatever they want, the law is the law as they signed it and the chief executive is obliged under the Constitution to enforce the law as written.

Thank you Dubya for introducing this at best irrelevant and at worst Unconstitutional fillip to the legislative process.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on January 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Crimony, plug the plug already.

Eren on January 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM

cya obumbles cronies…..just so glad that your planned rip-off failed.

Tim_CA on January 3, 2012 at 12:07 PM

This is not really true. Any “intent” in question in a challenge to the law or its application would not apply to the executive but to Congressional intent. What the executive (yes, the small ‘e’ is intentional given who occupies the office) thinks does not make one whit of difference. Bush or Obama can say whatever they want, the law is the law as they signed it and the chief executive is obliged under the Constitution to enforce the law as written.

Thank you Dubya for introducing this at best irrelevant and at worst Unconstitutional fillip to the legislative process.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on January 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Good points, but I didn’t say it would be an effective argument, just that it’s the only impact they have. Also, Bill Clinton used signing statements, too, and I think Reagan did, although I’m fuzzy on that.

Ed Morrissey on January 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM

One wonders if O-bone-ya had some dealings making sure this was in the bill, a CYA. This and Solyndra among others would be major campaign fodder, and the One knows how to throw is friends under the bus.

itsspideyman on January 3, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Thank you Dubya for introducing this at best irrelevant and at worst Unconstitutional fillip to the legislative process.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on January 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Signing statements have been used since James Monroe.

NotCoach on January 3, 2012 at 12:44 PM

LSQ, thrown under the bus by a little signature, tsk tsk tsk, o’bummer.

jake49 on January 3, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Sprint’s problem is its long term plans hang on what happens with LightSquared. They can’t postpone building towers, developing its 4-G service or converting to LTE waiting a year for the FCC to finalize its ruling. Just look at the damage done to T Mobile in the 7 months lost waiting for merger approval. The highly competitive cell phone busness is extremely fast moving and the race can be lost just waiting for the foot dragging FCC come up with an answer.

Ayear ago the Democratic controlled FCC signalled the fix was in for LightSquared when they opened a shortened comment period for the terrestial fequency use waiver (not the normal 30 days) just prior to Thanksgiving week (2010) and then had the gall to claim they allowed sufficient time. It is the FCC’s obligation to protect existing frequency holders with or without comments. But it looked like they would give the go-ahead based on the sparse response.

Thanks to a couple of courageous USAF generals who pointed out WH pressure and the damage to the GPS system, this corrupt proposal will hopefully see its last days.

Corky Boyd on January 3, 2012 at 12:57 PM

The guy creeps me out. Looks too much like Valery Plane’s husband.

MaggiePoo on January 3, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Sprint fess will be going up to cover their losses. Glad I’m with T-Mobile – which I’m very glad did NOT get bought by AT&T.

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2012 at 1:10 PM

fees not fess – I think THE Fess – Fess Parker is dead already….

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM

And hot on the heels of that announcement, LSQ hires a new CFO – one with a background in dealmaking.

Go LSQ!

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-03/lightsquared-names-montagner-finance-chief-as-pressures-mount.html

AJsDaddie on January 3, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Off topic, what’s the deal with this “First” nonsense?

search4truth on January 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Sounds like Light Squared will explode (size determined by the mass .. E=mc**2)

Sprint seems to want 30 days to get clear.

J_Crater on January 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM

the petition filed last month by LightSquared that essentially tells everyone using the current GPS technology to replace all of their equipment

Well now. The Emperor Zero seems to have ended that entire idea.

dogsoldier on January 3, 2012 at 2:51 PM

fees not fess – I think THE Fess – Fess Parker is dead already….

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Yes, THE Fess is dead. He managed to build a great winery in California after he left show business. We stored away a bottle of Fess Parker Chardonnay the day he died. That bottle will not be opened. We see it and remember him nearly daily.

Each cork had a picture of a coonskin cap on it. How clever. Of course, many of the Hot Blast readers won’t know or care about Fess Parker or coonskin caps. But some of us of a certain age remember them fondly.

Cheers, Fess.

Qzsusy on January 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM