Blog Editor’s Note: Another great contribution to the public discussion by RNTF member, GWU professor, and former Dep Asst Secretary at DOT, DIana Furchtgott-Roth.
This long-running issue arises from fundamental challenges with the evolution of the use of spectrum for much more than commercial radio broadcast, a laissez faire bias in federal governance, and a drift away from policy and decisions based upon technical expertise.
And it is certainly not just the FCC.
The bill, which has bipartisan House support, mirrors the bipartisan bill in the Senate introduced by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in June, cosponsored with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) and Mike Rounds (R-SD). The bills do not require additional Federal spending.
The risk to Americans’ navigation devices comes from a 2020 Federal Communications Commission Order granting an application from Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial network using spectrum next to the bands reserved for Global Positioning System. Ligado should have no objection to the bills if its transmissions do not interfere with Americans’ GPS equipment.
The FCC’s Order, which was not open to public comment, acknowledged the potential costs by obliging Ligado to pay for damages to Federal devices. Plus, the Commission required Ligado set up and maintain a toll-free number for Americans to report interference. But the FCC did not require Ligado to compensate the individuals and companies who called the toll-free number for costs that could run into the tens of billions of dollars.