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Sanjiv Ahuja, Chairman and CEO of LightSquared Corrects the Record

 

Special interests are trying to distract attention from the facts. 

For eight years, LightSquared has navigated the regulatory process to win approvals to build America’s first privately funded coast-to-coast wireless broadband service.  LightSquared’s plan to invest billions of dollars to use its frequencies for an integrated ground-space network has been supported by both Republican and Democratic regulators -- Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, FCC Chairmen appointed by President Bush, and Julius Genachowski, the FCC Chairman appointed by President Obama. In fact, the regulatory approvals that paved our way came in the mid-2000’s, during the Bush administration under Powell and Martin.

Regulators from both parties understand LightSquared’s approach will create more competition in the marketplace, put downward pressure on the prices paid by consumers, create good paying jobs in the tech sector, and give Americans access to the most modern cellular technology.  LightSquared’s plan has drawn bipartisan support because it’s right for the country.

Any suggestion that LightSquared has run roughshod over the regulatory process is contradicted by the reality of eight long years spent gaining approvals.  Just this week, there has been another request from the government for an additional round of testing of LightSquared’s network.

We understand that some in the telecom sector fear the challenges for their business model that LightSquared presents.  We understand the opposition of some in the GPS industry; many of their devices “squat” on someone else’s spectrum and while technological fixes are readily available, some companies are loath to make the necessary engineering changes and would instead prefer to get access to someone else’s spectrum for free. 

It’s also ludicrous to suggest LightSquared’s success depends on political connections.  This is a private company that has never taken one dollar in taxpayer money.  About $10,600 sits in the LightSquared PAC. The founder of LightSquared has given to candidates in both political parties in the last eight years, with two thirds of his contributions going to Republicans because of the founder’s free market philosophy.  I gave $30,400 in contributions to both parties in late 2010. It’s difficult to charge that LightSquared has undue political influence when it was denied the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing of the House Armed Service Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee – or even be allowed a one-on-one meeting with the chariman of that committee prior to the hearing, as the GPS industry was given.

This entrepreneurial company is poised to create as many as 15,000 jobs as spends $8 billion to help provide American consumers with cheaper, better cellular service. It’s time Washington politicians stop using LightSquared as a piñata.  Smart engineers, not political rhetoric, should decide LightSquared’s fate.

If LightSquared is blocked from entering the wireless market, consumers will lose out on the benefits of a new source of more competition, better service and lower prices.