Prepare for battle over ATC…

Posted in Financials, LightSquared, Operators, Regulatory, Spectrum, TerreStar at 8:48 am by timfarrar

The initial response of AT&T and Verizon to the FCC’s approval of Harbinger’s plans has been extremely hostile, with AT&T describing the action as “manifestly unwise and potentially unlawful”. Presumably their reaction is at least partly due to the fact that it appears at least one and possibly both of them were caught napping by the FCC’s action.

Interestingly, Communications Daily is also reporting that the FCC’s Republican commissioners sought to have the limitations on leasing to AT&T and Verizon stripped from the Order, but were unsuccessful. We also understand that at least two MSS operators have come away from recent meetings with the Commission convinced that the forthcoming proposals to encourage the use of MSS spectrum for mobile broadband (promised in the National Broadband Plan) will suggest removing the requirement for all ATC terminals to have dual-mode satellite-terrestrial capability and instead simply require that the satellite services are offered to some subset of customers.

This sets the scene for a big political battle if and when Harbinger moves forward. You can imagine the potential for arguments between Democrats and Republicans about favoring well-connected hedge funds. Of course what might trump it all is if it turns out that Huawei is building (and possibly vendor financing) the network. In that case the specter of national security implications is likely to make Mr Falcone’s previous appearance before Congress seem like a cakewalk.

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