Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin lobbies for LightSquared

Martin, now a Washington lawyer, and LightSquared executives told an FCC Commissioner the company still wants to build a network

Two names that have recently been out of the limelight recently turned up on Tuesday at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission: Bankrupt would-be mobile broadband carrier LightSquared and former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who was helping to sell LightSquared's story to the agency.

Martin led the FCC from 2005 to 2009 as an appointee of former President George W. Bush, leaving just before President Barack Obama's inauguration. Obama named Julius Genachowski to the post. Martin is now a lobbyist and attorney at Patton Boggs LLP, a Washington, D.C., law firm.

Two top executives from LightSquared brought Martin and another Patton Boggs lobbyist along to meet with Commissioner Ajit Pai at the FCC on Tuesday, according to a disclosure letter filed on Thursday. LightSquared said they pitched Pai on the benefits to the public of LightSquared's planned 4G LTE network, which the FCC essentially killed in February because of interference between the cellular system and some GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers.

LightSquared's wholesale business model would boost competition by selling mobile broadband capacity to other carriers and would spark innovation in mobile applications, the letter said. "The LightSquared representatives also stressed the Company's continuing desire and intention to deploy a nationwide 4G wireless broadband network" and told Pai the FCC has many options for addressing the interference issues, it said. Doug Smith, LightSquared's chairman and CEO, and Jeffrey Carlisle, executive vice president of regulatory affairs and public policy, also attended the meeting.

LightSquared received conditional approval in January 2011 to deploy a national cellular network using spectrum next to the band assigned to GPS. After the agency blocked its plan, LightSquared filed for bankruptcy in May.

During Martin's term, the FCC released large amounts of spectrum for mobile broadband services, including the auctions of 700MHz bands that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are using for LTE today. But Martin also came under fire in a House of Representatives committee report that alleged he abused his power.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
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