The FCC Might Be Changing The Game

Apparently federal regulators are planning on giving a grant to LightSquared. The satellite broadband start up will be allowed to use its airways as an alternative form of the communication spectrum. The requirement that handsets would have to link to the companies’ satellites would be lifted as well.

According to Matt Nodine, chief of staff of the FCC’s wireless bureau, the idea is that this would open the use of satellite companies’ airwaves for networks which have relied on ground-based towers in the past. It came as no surprise after the 5-0 vote that some wireless companies expressed concern about the pending actions. The biggest reasons cite that the leasing of satellite airwaves for traditional mobile phone could cause interference. Concerns also touch on the fact that the satellite spectrum has generally been auctioned off for much less money than other airwaves that are now used for cell phone service.

The company is Virginia-based and funded, for the most part, by Harbinger. Harbinger is a hedge fund founded by Philip Falcone, which has invested billions to launch a national broadband wireless network. Harbinger had originally agreed to build a national wireless broadband network. The network would use Long Term Evolution (or LTE) technology, supporting both satellite and terrestrial airwaves. Before the FCC signed off on that plan last March, Harbinger had to agree to the condition that it would seek FCC approval before leasing airwaves to AT&T or Verizon, which operate the two biggest wireless networks in the nation. Though the hope way that this would encourage competition in the specific market, it really just makes it more difficult for the two wireless superpowers to lease airwaves from Harbinger’s LightSquared than its smaller competitors. AT&T is presently challenging the FCC action.