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Smith, Thornberry, and 20 Bipartisan Members Demand Answers From FCC

WASHINGTON- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) together with 20 other members, yesterday sent a letter to the FCC Commissioners regarding the Commission’s approval of Ligado’s proposal to use portions of spectrum in a way that poses an unacceptable risk to the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the United States. Read the full letter here

Reps, Jim Cooper (D-TN), Michael Turner (R-OH), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), John Garamendi (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Don Bacon (R-NE), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Liz Cheney (R-WY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) joined Smith and Thornberry on the letter to the FCC.

As the letter states, “Section 1698 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prevents the commission from approving commercial terrestrial operations in these bands until 90 days after the commission resolves concerns of widespread harmful interference by such operations to covered GPS devices. We are concerned that your approval of any mitigation efforts not rigorously tested and approved by national security technical experts may be inconsistent with the legislative direction to resolve concerns prior to permitting commercial terrestrial operations. We urge the commission to reconsider and impose additional mitigation steps to address the concerns of these users.”

According to reporting, the FCC relied solely on test results from Ligado itself to resolve interference concerns, rather than more extensive testing conducted by the Department of Defense. 

The letter requests each FCC commissioner to respond to a series of questions and information requests within seven days, including:

  • Copies of any legal analysis that allowed the FCC to dismiss the interference concerns expressed unanimously by the national security community.
  • Confirmation that each commissioner received a briefing from DOD on the classified DOD testing assessment.
  • Confirmation from Commissioners Rosenworcel and Starks that they believe the concerns of the national security community have been adequately addressed.

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