The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing recently, led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) to further investigate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granting Ligado Networks’ application to use spectrum. This was not the first attempt by Inhofe to sow misinformation on this issue, nor was it the last. Inhofe released a letter, co-signed by a number of other Senate colleagues, repeating some of the falsehoods echoed during the hearing and that the defense industry has been pushing.
A number of senators on the committee noted the convenient fact that Inhofe had failed to call any witnesses from either Ligado or the FCC. That’s how Inhofe has navigated this issue from its very beginning until now. He is not interested in fact or reason and is intent on never having to hear or consider the counter-arguments. Doing so would ruin the baseless facade he’s constructed at behest of the Department of Defense (DoD) and military contractors.
This prickly relationship with the truth did not end there. The aforementioned letter is filled with so many blatant falsehoods, it warrants going through them one by one to flesh out just exactly how unhinged the senior senator from Oklahoma actually is.
The most high profile claim that Inhofe and his allies make is that Ligado puts global positioning systems (GPS) at risk with their operations from a military perspective. This is objectively not true. The FCC order is riddled with hoops through which Ligado must jump to protect GPS. This includes having to create a separate band to guard the integrity of the GPS spectrum, as well as being willing to repair and replace any equipment that may be damaged in the off chance their operation comes too close. This was a possibility for which both the FCC and Ligado extensively prepared.
Perhaps the most laughable claim in the letter was that the FCC “hurried” this application. Ligado’s application was filed a decade ago in 2010. Furthermore, conversations and proceedings on this matter were going on as early as 2003. If this is what Sen. Inhofe considers “hurried,” then it is little wonder why our government never seems to accomplish much good for the American people.
The letter circles back to address GPS again from a commercial perspective. It ignores the fact that Ligado has established agreements with GPS manufacturers such as Garmin, John Deere, and a number of others that represent the vast majority of manufacturers in the United States. Even so, Sen. Inhofe claims to have their best interests at heart, even when these companies have signed off on Ligado. It’s far more likely that Inhofe is acting at the behest of the military industrial complex.
The same is true of the aviation community. The FCC order requires Ligado to coordinate with them on their operations. The order even cites the submitted comments of Metro Aviation, a leading supplier of air medical services. Metro stated that Ligado’s operation might actually help them by providing services to better facilitate their operations. Once again, Inhofe and his co-signers are inventing threats left and right to obscure the real issue they have with the FCC on this matter.
For a full fact check of the claims in the letter, attorney Joel Thayer goes through it in detail and there are far more outright falsehoods and misleading insinuations than we were able to cover here. Long story short, the only vested interest that’s threatened by Ligado’s use of this spectrum is the monopoly the DoD and the military industrial complex have over broadband spectrum in America. They fear that delivering better, more innovative services to the American people might disrupt that monopoly. To that, I’d say it’s about time.