Last month, the FCC quietly approved the application by Ligado Networks to use a slice of the radio frequency spectrum that critics contend would endanger the reliability, accuracy and availability of GPS satellite navigation. In our story on the subject last month, we pointed out the concerns.
And now, Senator James Inhofe (R, OK) has taken up the mantle, defending GPS, calling out Ligado and the Federal Communications Commission for its approval of Ligado’s application. In a statement, Inhofe said, “Simply put, the FCC is jeopardizing GPS signals that Americans rely on every day—that support both our national and economic security—for the benefit of just one company and its hedge fund investors.” Inhofe also pointed out that the Ligado application isn’t the first time the GPS sanctity has been threatened. More than a dozen years ago, he wrote, tech company LightSquared proposed using that part of the spectrum for a terrestrial network for mobile communications. Thanks to a united front of concern from more than a dozen interested parties, including the Department of Defense, the application was denied.
In this case the DoD is again at the fore in voicing its concerns over Ligado’s planned use of the spectrum, which it intends to use for supporting the Internet of things, among other communications and data uses.
The problem is that there’s broad opposition to Ligado’s plan, including from the DoD and eight other government agencies, according to Inhofe.
Inhofe, a pilot himself and the author of the Pilots’ Bill of Rights laws, also called into question the FCC’s approval process which, again, in Inhofe’s words, was “a hasty decision over the weekend—in the middle of a national crisis—against the judgment of a unanimous conclusion” by a federal radio frequency advisory committee in conjunction with numerous stakeholders.
Inhofe concluded by asking that the FCC withdraw its approval of the Ligado application, suggesting it and the FCC need to figure out a better way to safeguard GPS frequencies and, we’d like to add, their hundreds of millions of users.