Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) is continuing his campaign to overturn a decision by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant access to Ligado to portions of the spectrum adjacent to those used by aviation and other GPS users, pledging to keep fighting the approval and touting reiterated opposition from the Department of Commerce. The FCC in April 2020 had granted approval for Ligado—once known as LightSquared—to use portions of the L-band spectrum next to frequency bands used for GPS and satellite communications.
In a statement on the Senate floor last week, Inhofe highlighted a recent letter he received from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo saying, “There has been no change in the Department of Commerce’s or NTIA’s [National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s] opposition to the FCC’s Ligado order. NTIA will continue its efforts on behalf of the Executive Branch to oppose it, including continuing to actively pursue its petition for reconsideration.”
“After the Ligado order was rushed through over the weekend in April 2020, there was widespread disagreement, frustration—and frankly—outrage at the decision,” Inhofe said, noting 15 government departments and agencies petitioned the FCC for reconsideration. Because those petitions were pending as the administration turned over, he sought to reconfirm those positions.
“This shows, once again, that there is bipartisan concern about the Ligado order that is continuing into the Biden administration,” he said of the Raimondo response. “It is not an exaggeration when I say that the Ligado order would be devastating to public safety, our national defense, and even our way of life.”
He reiterated his concerns that Ligado’s planned 5G network could interfere with other spectrum use, pointing to the FCC’s stipulation in its order that Ligado should repair or replace devices experiencing harmful interference from its operations.
“That alone should be enough to overturn the order—but if not, we need to make sure federal agencies, state governments, and all others negatively impacted by the actions of Ligado are not left holding the bag when it comes to costs—and worse, aren’t put in the position where they have to push the costs onto American consumers,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe in June introduced the Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary for GPS and Satellite Communications Act of 2021 (RETAIN Act, S.2166) to ensure Ligado covers the cost of harm, and a companion bill was introduced in the House in July. He noted the act has drawn support from more than 100 organizations.