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LightSquared and GPS: “The villain of the piece.”
The answer emerging from countless legal filings and Congressional hearings is that the government itself is the villain of the piece, the absence of collaboration between agencies allowing one to act without consulting the others. In bypassing its normal processes to expedite approval of LightSquared’s plan to use its mobile satellite service frequencies for a terrestrial broadband wireless network, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) left its fellow Defense and Transportation Departments, Homeland Security and others, scrambling to protect GPS signals on which they now depend.
Actually, saying the “government” is the villain is too vague. Let us name names, highlighted in bold below:
An independent agency, the FCC claimed to be acting in the public interest by boosting the Obama administration’s national broadband plan when it approved LightSquared’s proposal, but in bypassing the normal notice of proposed rulemaking step it short-circuited a technical process that would have addressed the GPS interference issue in an orderly matter. In the subsequent rush to perform tests, critics were quick to point out close personal and political links between President Barack Obama, FCC chairman Julian Genachowski and hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone, LightSquared’s majority owner.
“Substantial federal resources, including over $2 million from the FAA, have been expended and diverted from other programs in testing and analyzing LightSquared’s proposals,” John Porcari, deputy transportation secretary, testified to Congress on Feb. 8. “This level of investment in assisting a commercial applicant to achieve the successful approval of its government application is quite unusual,” he said. [emphasis mine]
Shall we put it more bluntly, as I like to do? Obama and Genachowski attempted to bypass the normal licensing procedures in order to help Falcone (who had given mucho contributions to Obama’s campaign war chest) and in the process wasted millions of taxpayer dollars while simultaneously threatening the operation of millions of GPS units used by the general public and the military.