Senator Seeks Halt to LightSquared in Event of GPS Interference

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts asked colleagues to prevent Federal Communications Commission approval of Philip Falcone’s LightSquared until the agency shows the wireless service won’t disrupt the global-positioning system.

“There is too much at stake in interfering with a tool we all use, and on which our public safety and national security depend so heavily,” Roberts, a Kansas Republican, said in an e-mailed statement today.

Roberts introduced a measure yesterday to keep the FCC from using appropriated funds for approving LightSquared until it resolves interference concerns, according to the statement. It’s unclear when the measure, an amendment to a funding bill, will face an initial vote, Sarah Little, a spokesman for Roberts, said in an e-mail.

LightSquared wants to use airwaves formerly reserved mainly for satellites to offer high-speed wireless Internet to as many as 260 million people. GPS uses signals from satellites, and its makers and users say stronger emissions by LightSquared may interfere with navigation by aircraft, boats, tractors and automobiles.

Roberts’s proposal “is unnecessary and redundant” because the FCC has said it won’t decide until the GPS issue is resolved, Terry Neal, a vice president for Reston, Virginia-based LightSquared, said in an e-mailed statement.

Tammy Sun, an FCC spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and telephone call seeking comment.

LightSquared, backed by Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, won tentative assent from the FCC in January, and is seeking final approval after pledging steps toward resolving interference concerns. Federal officials are overseeing additional tests.

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