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LightSquared Request for Relief Granted

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Released: December 20, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2051

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

LightSquared Subsidiary LLC
)
IB Docket No. 12-296
)
Request for Relief From
)
Build-Out Conditions
)

ORDER

Adopted: December 20, 2012

Released: December 20, 2012

By the Chiefs, International Bureau, Office of Engineering and Technology, and Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Order, we find it is in the public interest to toll the specific geographic measures
and dates of the terrestrial-build-out conditions placed on LightSquared Subsidiary LLC (“LightSquared”)
when the Federal Communications Commission consented to Harbinger Capital Partners (Harbinger)
acquiring control of LightSquared’s Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) L-Band licenses and related
Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) authorization in the 2010 Harbinger Transfer Order.1 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. Further, LightSquared has
proposed modifications of its current authorizations2 and filed petitions for rulemaking with the
Commission in September and November 20123 in an attempt to resolve GPS interference concerns.
Given these developments, we find that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the
Commission adopted the build-out requirements. As a result, we find that it is in the public interest to toll
the specific geographic and timing conditions included in the Harbinger Transfer Order until further
determinations are made with respect to LightSquared’s ATC authority.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
In November 2004, the International Bureau first granted LightSquared’s predecessor-in-
interest the authority to operate ATC facilities providing voice and data communication for users


1 SkyTerra Communications, Inc., Transferor and Harbinger Capital Partners Funds, Transferee, Memorandum
Opinion and Order and Declaratory Ruling, IB Docket No. 08-184, 25 FCC Rcd 3059 (Int’l. Bur, OET and WTB,
2010) (“Harbinger Transfer Order”). Harbinger changed SkyTerra’s name to LightSquared after the acquisition.
2 See Appendix; see also Federal Communications Commission Invites Comment on LightSquared Request to
Modify its ATC Authorization
, DA 12-1863, IB Docket No. 12-340 (rel. Nov. 16, 2012) (“LightSquared ATC Mod
PN
”).
3 See LightSquared Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11683 (filed September 28, 2012) (“L-Band Rulemaking
Petition
”), Public Notice, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Reference Information Center Petition for
Rulemaking Filed
, Report No. 2968 (Nov. 16, 2012); LightSquared Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11681 (filed Nov. 2,
2012) (“1670-1680 MHz Rulemaking Petition”), Public Notice, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Reference
Information Center Petition for Rulemaking Filed
, Report No. 2967 (Nov. 9, 2012).

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DA 12-2051

equipped with dual-mode MSS/ATC devices.4 In the Harbinger Transfer Order, we adopted a set of
conditions, including requiring LightSquared to meet stringent build-out and coverage requirements for a
terrestrial network to provide mobile broadband services to the public.5 One condition required
LightSquared to use MSS L-Band spectrum to provide terrestrial coverage to at least 100 million people
in the United States by December 31, 2012.6 Another condition required LightSquared to provide
terrestrial coverage to at least 145 million people in the United States by December 31, 2013, and to at
least 260 million people in the United States by December 31, 2015.7 Concurrently, the Bureau modified
LightSquared’s ATC authority to afford additional flexibility for the technical design of LightSquared’s
ATC network, with a goal of enabling LightSquared to operate with greater capacity and improved
spectrum efficiency.8
3.
In January 2011, the International Bureau issued an order conditionally waiving the
“integrated service” ATC rule for LightSquared’s proposed network.9 As part of that Order, the
Commission discussed potential interference to GPS and established an Interference Resolution Process
to address such concerns. On February 15, 2012, the International Bureau issued a Public Notice in
response to a letter submitted by NTIA concerning the results of testing of the potential interference of
LightSquared’s proposed network to GPS.10 The February 2012 Public Notice proposed to vacate the
Conditional Waiver Order “due to LightSquared’s inability to address satisfactorily the legitimate
interference concerns surrounding its planned terrestrial operations, and the appearance that the
interference resolution process has no realistic prospect of being successfully completed by LightSquared
in a reasonable period of time.”11 The February 2012 Public Notice also proposed to modify
“LightSquared’s satellite license pursuant to Section 316 of the Communications Act to suspend
indefinitely LightSquared’s underlying ATC authorization, first granted in 2004, to an extent consistent
with the NTIA Letter.”12
4.
On September 24, 2012, LightSquared requested “confirmation” that the build-out
conditions no longer apply in light of events that have transpired since the release of the Harbinger
Transfer Order
.13 LightSquared argues that its ability to provide terrestrial network coverage using MSS


4 Mobile Satellite Ventures Subsidiary LLC Application for Minor Modification of Space Station License for
AMSC-1, IBFS File Nos. SAT-MOD-20031118-00333, SAT-MOD-20031118-00332, SES-MOD-20031118-01879,
Order and Authorization, 19 FCC Rcd 22144 (Int'l Bur. 2004). See Harbinger Transfer Order, 25 FCC Rcd 3059,
nn. 3, 6 for a description of the license history of AMSC-1.
5 Harbinger Transfer Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 3088-89, ¶ 72 and Attachment 2.
6 Id. at Attachment 2, ¶ 5.
7 Id.
8 See SkyTerra Subsidiary LLC Application for Modification Authority for an Ancillary Terrestrial Component,
IBFS File No. SAT-MOD-20090429-00047, Call Sign: AMSC-1, File No. SAT-MOD-20090429-00046, Call Sign:
S2358, IBFS File No. SES-MOD-20090429-00536, Call Sign: E980179, Order and Authorization, 25 FCC Rcd
3043 (Int'l Bur., 2010) (“2010 SkyTerra ATC Modification Order”).
9 LightSquared Subsidiary LLC Request for Modification of its Authority for an Ancillary Terrestrial Component,
Order and Authorization, 26 FCC Rcd 566 (Int'l Bur. 2011) (“Conditional Waiver Order”).
10 International Bureau Invites Comment on NTIA Letter Regarding LightSquared Conditional Waiver, DA 12-214,
IB Docket No. 11-109 (Feb. 15, 2012) (“February 2012 Public Notice”); Letter from Lawrence E. Strickling,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, to Julius Genachowski, Chairman,
FCC, available at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021860324 (dated Feb. 14, 2012) (“NTIA Letter”).
11 February 2012 Public Notice at 2-4. See also Conditional Waiver Order.
12 February 2012 Public Notice at 4 (footnote omitted).
13 Ex Parte Communication and Request for Action, Letter from Jeffrey J. Carlisle, Executive Vice President,
Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy, LightSquared, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications
Commission, IB Docket No. 12-296 (filed Sept. 24, 2012) (“Build-out Suspension Request”).
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DA 12-2051

L-Band frequencies has been constrained by the need to resolve interference concerns relating to the
operations of GPS satellite services in adjacent frequency bands. In particular, LightSquared states that
its ability to provide terrestrial coverage using ATC has been rendered uncertain by the Commission’s
proposal in February 2012 to suspend indefinitely or revoke all of the ATC authorizations on which
LightSquared’s terrestrial network would rely.14 LightSquared asks that we conclude that the build-out
conditions in the Harbinger Transfer Order no longer apply, and that LightSquared is relieved of those
conditions until the status of LightSquared’s ATC authorizations is clarified.15
5.
On September 28, 2012, LightSquared filed an application seeking to modify the ATC
authorization associated with its MSS L-Band licenses in order to allow LightSquared to proceed with
deployment of a portion of its proposed terrestrial broadband network and to address interference
concerns raised by the GPS industry.16 The application was placed on Public Notice on November 16,
2012.17 LightSquared argues that the proposed plan will resolve the GPS compatibility issues and will
obviate the need to continue with the February 2012 Public Notice proposals.18 LightSquared also filed
related petitions for rulemaking with the Commission in September and November 2012.19
6.
Comments. On October 10, 2012, we sought comment on the Build-out Suspension
Request.20 The comment period closed on November 28, 2012. Four parties filed comments in response
to the Application.21 Three parties filed reply comments.22
7.
The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) argues that the Commission should grant
LightSquared’s requested relief because LightSquared “should be afforded a reasonable opportunity to
deploy its service” and realize the “significant public interest benefits of the network.”23 CCA further
states that granting the proposed relief would be consistent with Commission precedent in which the
Commission provided relief to licensees in response to regulatory uncertainty.24 CCA also points to


14 Id. at 3.
15 Id.
16 Modification Application of LightSquared Subsidiary LLC, IBFS File Nos. SAT-MOD-20120928-00160, -00161,
SES-MOD-20121001-00872 (filed Sept. 28, 2012 and Oct. 1, 2012 with identical narrative text) (“ATC Modification
Application
”).
17 LightSquared ATC Mod PN. The comment cycle closes on January 11, 2013. Id. at 1.
18 LightSquared Inc., LightSquared Subsidiary LLC, and One Dot Six Corp., Reply Comments, IB Docket No. 12-
296, at 3 (filed Nov. 19, 2012) (“LightSquared Reply”).
19 See L-Band Rulemaking Petition and 1670-1680 MHz Rulemaking Petition.
20 Federal Communications Commission Invites Comment on LightSquared Request for Relief from Build-Out
Conditions, DA 12-1604, IB Docket No. 12-296 (Oct. 10, 2012).
21 Alan Lezak, Comments, IB Docket No. 12-296 (filed Oct. 15, 2012); the Competitive Carriers Association,
Comments, IB Docket No. 12-296 (filed Nov. 9, 2012) (“CCA Comments”); the Coalition to Save Our GPS,
Comments, IB Docket No. 12-296 (filed Nov. 9, 2012) (“GPS Coalition Comments”); the National Society of
Professional Surveyors, Comments, IB Docket No. 12-296 (filed Nov. 19, 2012) (“NSPS Comments”).
22 The National Society of Professional Surveyors, Reply Comments, IB Docket No. 12-296 (filed Nov. 28, 2012)
(“NSPS Reply Comments”); LightSquared Reply Inc.; Garmin International, Inc., Reply Comments, IB Docket No.
12-296 (filed Nov. 19, 2012) (“Garmin Reply”). See also Alan Lezak Comments at 1 arguing that LightSquared’s
request should be denied.
23 CCA Comments at 1.
24 CCA Comments at 5-6 citing Amendment of Part 27 of the Commission’s Rules to Govern the Operation of
Wireless Communications Services in the 2.3 GHz Band; Establishment of Rules and Policies for the Digital Audio
Radio Satellite Service in the 2310-2360 MHz Frequency Band
, Order on Reconsideration, WT Docket No. 07-293
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DA 12-2051

precedent in which the Commission provided relief in the wireless service and satellite service contexts.25
8.
The Coalition to Save Our GPS (GPS Coalition) and the National Society of Professional
Surveyors (NSPS) argue that the public interest would be served if the Commission resolved the issues
raised in the February 2012 Public Notice regarding LightSquared’s continued ability to provide
terrestrial services using L-Band MSS spectrum.26 NSPS argues that the Commission should deny
LightSquared’s request until the FCC finalizes the proposals developed in the February 2012 Public
Notice
.27 Garmin concurs in its reply comments, stating that relaxing the build-out conditions without
first resolving the issues presented in the February 2012 Public Notice will only increase uncertainty for
both LightSquared and the GPS community.28 The GPS Coalition also states that the conditions adopted
in the Harbinger Transfer Order “were not specifically tied to use of LightSquared’s L-Band MSS
spectrum” and requests that LightSquared should be asked to provide a “detailed accounting of its
available spectrum resources” to support the Commission’s consideration of any modification of these
conditions.29
9.
In its reply comments, LightSquared restates its argument that the February 2012 Public
Notice has made it a practical impossibility to meet the build-out conditions set in the Harbinger Transfer
Order
.30 It also states that the Commission no longer needs to address the February 2012 Public Notice
because the proposal LightSquared made in its ATC Modification Application, L-Band Rulemaking
Petition
and 1670-1680 MHz Rulemaking Petition “proposed a comprehensive and constructive solution
that would resolve the GPS compatibility questions underlying that public notice while still allowing
LightSquared to implement its network.”31 LightSquared argues that a Commission grant of its request
would facilitate it moving forward with its proposed solution and allow LightSquared to implement its
network.32 In response to the GPS Coalition’s argument that LightSquared could deploy its network in
non-L-Band spectrum and still adhere to the build-out condition, LightSquared argues that the Harbinger
Transfer Order
build-out conditions are “based on the premise that LightSquared has continued access to
L-Band spectrum sufficient to implement a 4G network … [and] any non-L-Band spectrum available to
LightSquared would be used in addition to, and not as a substitute for, that L-Band spectrum.”33
10.
In response to LightSquared’s reply comments, NSPS argues that LightSquared’s build-
out conditions are still applicable until the Commission finalizes the proposals from its February 2012





and IB Docket No. 95-91, FCC 12-130, ¶ 121 (rel. Oct. 17, 2012) (extending deadlines in the Wireless
Communications Service band to allow licensees to respond to revisions made to technical standards in that band).
25 Requests of Ten Licensees of 191 Licenses in the Multichannel Video and Data Distribution Service for Waiver of
the Five-Year Deadline for Providing Substantial Service
, 25 FCC Rcd 10097, 10100, 10102, ¶¶ 5, 12 (2010)
(granted licensees a five year extension of their construction period because they did not have access to affordable
equipment manufacturers); Teledesic Corporation Application for Authority to Construct, Launch, and Operate a
Low Earth Orbit Satellite System in the Domestic and International Fixed Satellite Service
, Order and
Authorization, 12 FCC Rcd 3154, 3163-64, ¶¶ 20-21 (1997) (the Commission did not impose system
implementation milestones because Teledesic would not be able to proceed beyond the initial phases of construction
until the inter-satellite link issues were resolved).
26 GPS Coalition Comments at 2, 3-4; NSPS Comments at 2; NSPS Reply at 1.
27 NSPS Comments at 1-2; NSPS Reply at 3.
28 Garmin Reply at 3.
29 GPS Coalition Comments at 2, 4-5.
30 LightSquared Reply at 2.
31 Id. at 3-4.
32 Id. at 5.
33 Id. at 4.
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DA 12-2051

Public Notice.34 NSPS does not believe the Commission should remove the build-out conditions just
because LightSquared presented a new proposal in its ATC Modification Application.35 NSPS argues that,
if the Commission does not address the proposals in the February 2012 Public Notice first, “NSPS
members and other high precision GPS users [will] continue to be harmed by ongoing uncertainty.”36
Garmin also argues that “regardless of the merits of LightSquared’s new proposal, the extensive evidence
produced in the reports from several federal departments and agencies…demonstrated serious concerns
about whether several variations of LightSquared’s proposed ATC service can coexist with GPS.”37

III.

DISCUSSION

11.
As an initial matter, we note that the build-out deadlines at issue here are conditions
placed on the grant of a transfer-of-control application involving L-Band MSS and ATC authorizations.
Therefore, we consider LightSquared’s request to relax those conditions in the context of the public
interest legal determination in the Harbinger Transfer Order.38
12.
The record before us shows that circumstances have changed significantly since the
release of the Harbinger Transfer Order. Unresolved interference concerns with respect to GPS constrain
LightSquared’s ability to deploy the terrestrial facilities necessary to meet the build-out requirements
adopted in the Harbinger Transfer Order, the earliest of which requires LightSquared to provide
terrestrial coverage to at least 100 million people in the United States by December 31, 2012.39
LightSquared’s ATC Modification Application, seeking to modify its ATC authorization associated with
its MSS L-Band licenses, and the related rulemaking petitions, currently are pending before the
Commission. According to LightSquared, this application and related rulemaking petitions are intended
to address interference concerns raised by the GPS industry and others and to allow LightSquared to
proceed with deployment of its proposed terrestrial broadband network.
13.
Interference concerns involving LightSquared’s L-Band operations and current GPS use
will not be resolved in a timeframe that would permit LightSquared to meet its construction requirements.
LightSquared’s recent proposal to resolve the GPS industry’s concerns is under consideration but is not
ripe for action, pending completion of comment cycles and any necessary further proceedings. Without
prejudging any of the matters raised in pending proceedings, we find that it is in the public interest to
provide for an orderly deliberative process in which LightSquared will have the opportunity to explore
solutions to GPS interference concerns. Thus, given the changes in circumstances, including the ongoing
proceedings concerning LightSquared’s service, we find it is in the public interest to toll the dates and
specific coverage metrics associated with the Harbinger Transfer Order build-out requirements. The
action we take today is without prejudice to the pending modification requests and petitions for
rulemaking filed by LightSquared,40 and do not prejudge any action the Commission may take in response
to the record of the February 2012 Public Notice. Such actions may include, as appropriate, the adoption
of build-out and coverage requirements and associated deadlines.
14.
Some commenters argue that not addressing issues contained in the February 2012


34 NSPS Reply at 1-2.
35 Id. at 2-3.
36 Id. at 2.
37 Garmin Reply at 2.
38 Harbinger Transfer Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 3089, ¶ 73. We further note that these build-out deadlines are not
milestones of the kind imposed on satellite licenses, and, therefore, the legal standard applicable to requests to
extend such milestones does not apply here.
39 Harbinger Transfer Order, Attachment 2, ¶ 5.
40 See L-Band Rulemaking Petition and 1670-1680 MHz Rulemaking Petition.
5

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DA 12-2051

Public Notice issue before addressing the build-out limits would cause continued uncertainty.41 We find
that addressing the build-out requirements will maintain the status quo while the Commission considers
the February 2012 Public Notice issues in light of LightSquared’s ATC Modification Application. In this
case, we find that it would further the public interest to maintain the status quo while considering the
proposals in the record developed pursuant to the February 2012 Public Notice, as well as the ATC
Modification Application
. In addition, we conclude that the public interest in this case is better served by
maintaining the status quo by tolling the build-out requirements than by acting first on the February 2012
Public Notice
, as proposed by commenters, without considering the proposals in LightSquared’s ATC
Modification Application
and petitions for rulemaking.42 Moreover, because pursuant to the Conditional
Waiver Order
LightSquared currently is prohibited from operating terrestrial facilities, we find that there
is no substantial prejudice to GPS operations from this approach.
15.
We find that the build-out conditions specified in the Harbinger Transfer Order were
prefaced on the assumption that LightSquared would be able to operate using MSS L-Band spectrum.43
Thus, although LightSquared contemplated using other spectrum as part of its terrestrial network, we do
not find it necessary to follow the GPS Coalition’s suggestion that LightSquared be required to provide a
“detailed accounting” of this other spectrum, prior to any tolling of the build-out requirements.44
16.
At this time, we do not find it necessary to respond to comments stating that
LightSquared cannot provide service without causing harmful interference. LightSquared’s ATC
Modification Application
, which LightSquared states will address the GPS industry’s interference
concerns, is currently pending before the Commission.45 The Commission has not yet considered the
proposals contained in the ATC Modification Application. We believe that it is in the public interest to
maintain the status quo while the Commission considers LightSquared’s most recent proposal before
rendering a decision about whether LightSquared is able to provide service without causing harmful
interference to the GPS industry.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

17.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 303(r) of the Communications
Act, 47 U.S.C. §303(r), that the above-captioned request for relief is GRANTED, and the build-out
requirements specified in the Harbinger Transfer Order at Attachment 2, ¶ 5, ARE TOLLED, pending
further action in other proceedings.


41 See supra ¶¶ 8, 10.
42 See L-Band Rulemaking Petition and 1670-1680 MHz Rulemaking Petition.
43 Harbinger Transfer Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 3088, ¶ 71.
44 See GPS Coalition Comments at 2, 4-5.
45 See ATC Modification Application; LightSquared Reply at 3.
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DA 12-2051

18.
This Order is issued under Sections 0.241, 0.261, and 0.331 of the Commission’s rules,
47 C.F.R. §§ 0.241, 0.261, and 0.331, and is effective upon release. Petitions for reconsideration under
Section 1.106 or applications for review under Section 1.115 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§
1.106, 1.114, may be filed within 30 days of the date of public notice of this order.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Mindel De La Torre
Chief, International Bureau
Julius Knapp
Chief, Office of Engineering and
Technology
Ruth Milkman
Chief, Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau
7

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2051

APPENDIX

LightSquared’s request is submitted as part of the following applications (collectively, the “Applications”):
File Number
Call Sign/Lease ID
SAT-MOD-20120927-00158
AMSC-1
SAT-MOD-20120927-00159
S2358
SES-MOD-20121001-00888
E930367
SES-MOD-20121001-00889
E980179
SES-MOD-20121001-00890
E100051
SES-MOD-20121001-00891
E930124
SES-MOD-20121001-00892
E080031
SES-MOD-20121001-00893
E080030
ITC-MOD-20120927-00246
0005424201
L000007295
0005424221
WQMN726
0005424280
WQHL596
0166-EX-ML-2012
WF2XSA
8

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