FCC Won't Enforce Build-Out Requirements on LightSquared

First deadline for coverage with wireless network FCC won’t allow it to operate was Dec. 31

The FCC has agreed not to hold LightSquared to build-out conditions on a terrestrial mobile broadband network, which seems only fair since the FCC is not currently allowing it to operate the network.

"We find LightSquared is unable to meet the specific build-out requirements associated with its proposed terrestrial network because its ability to deploy is constrained by unresolved interference concerns with respect to certain Global Positioning Service (GPS) users operating in adjacent bands," said the FCC in a decision published Friday.

On condition of Harbinger Capital Partners purchase of a controlling interest in LightSquared’s Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) L-Band licenses — the spectrum it wants to use for the network — was that it provide terrestrial coverage to at least 100 million people in the U.S. by the end of this month. Clearly that is not going to happen, thanks to the FCC hold on the waiver.

The other deadlines — terrestrial coverage to at least 145 million U.S. residents by Dec. 31, 2013, and to at least 260 million by Dec. 31, 2015, — depends on whether the FCC accepts the latest proposal.

In light of the GPS interference issues, the FCC put a hold on a waiver it extended LightSquared that would have allowed the company to use its satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband. And while LightSquared has modified its proposal to attempt to resolve the GPS issues — including by not using the portion of spectrum closest to GPS — the FCC pointed out Friday that that request was not "ripe for action" and that a decision would not come in time, in any event, to allow the company to meet the build-out conditions prefaced on the waiver.

The FCC refused to weigh in on whether LightSquared would ever be able to operate using its current spectrum, saying it was still considering the company’s modified proposal.