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FCC Chairman Doesn’t Appear at Hearing on LightSquared

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski refused to appear at a hearing today into Philip Falcone’s LightSquared wireless service, a lawmaker said.

“I consider the chairman’s failure to show up today to be an affront to the House Armed Services Committee,” U.S. Representative Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican, said at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

The subcommittee agreed to accept the chairman’s designee at the hearing, Tammy Sun, an FCC spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We never said that the chairman would not appear,” Sun said.

The FCC’s scheduled witness today was Julius Knapp, chief of the agency’s technology office -- “the FCC’s top technical expert,” according to Sun.

“I’m not really concerned” that Genachowski didn’t appear, said Representative Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat. Genachowski met last week with Sanchez and Turner, Sanchez said.

LightSquared needs federal approval to commence commercial service with its network that is to eventually offer high-speed wireless Internet to 260 million people.

The company envisions offering wholesale service through a network of 40,000 base stations using airwaves previously reserved mainly for satellites. Makers and users of GPS devices, which rely on satellite signals, say LightSquared’s network would disrupt navigation by planes, boats, tractors and automobiles.

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