Now it shouldn’t be surprising that I oppose the decision by the Federal Communications Commission for endorse Ligado Networks’ application to reallocate low band spectrum for commercial terrestrial network which will interfere with GPS and satellite communication signals.
What is surprising, however, is that after my efforts to dispel Ligado’s lies, Ligado still has investors willing to bet big on them.
In October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ligado, which went bankrupt in 2012 after a failed effort to repurpose its spectrum, needed to refinance $4 billion in debt to avoid bankruptcy, and offered plum deals and high yields to hedge fund investors to do it. After surviving bankruptcy, Ligado will do anything to ensure its Wall Street hedge fund and private equity investors make money – even if it would compromise signals supporting our national and economic security on which Americans count every day.
Ligado has a program – and it’s scary. Just think of the activities that GPS and satellite communication signals support across the country. Our troops rely on them for equipment used on the battlefield, farmers rely on them to harvest their crops, and truckers and airlines rely on them to transport supplies and people safely; The list is lengthened increasingly.
Since his decision, taken on a Sunday in April, I have been sound the alarm, and Ligado spent tons of money on lobbyists trying to silence me. So far in 2020, Ligado has spent over $3 million lobbying members of Congress. And while he was busy trying to block my efforts to reverse the FCC’s decisionI expect Ligado has not communicated to its investors the huge risks they face.
That’s why I write here. For anyone considering investing in Ligado, I have free advice: buyer beware.
Sure, the FCC approved the Ligado order in April, but there are eight separate petitions for review the order pending at this time. They are signed by 22 private sector organizations and 14 federal agencies represented by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA. I believe these petitions will succeed in completely repealing Ligado’s permission slip to create interference. Even if they aren’t, there are three more strikes that should make any investor fear for their investment.
Ligado’s plan will be detrimental to our country’s GPS and everything that depends on it. Ligado claimed that all three major GPS manufacturers (Trimble, Garmin and Deere) supported Ligado’s plans, pointing to settlement agreements signed in 2015. In fact, these settlement agreements were to resolve the lawsuits filed by Ligado! Each GPS manufacturer has publicly stated that its settlement agreement is not an endorsement of what Ligado wants to do, nor can it be used as evidence that Ligado will not cause interference to GPS devices that ‘he produces. Hit one.
The Department of Defense has signaled that it could cost billions to upgrade, repair or replace equipment and systems affected by Ligado’s plan, but the DoD does not have the money to do so. and he shouldn’t have to spend taxpayers’ money to fix the problems caused by Ligado. This is why I have drafted provisions in this year’s annual defense bill which would make it clear: by law, the DoD will not be liable for damage caused by Ligado to its equipment and systems.
Additionally, Ligado – and any other company that may seek to purchase Ligado – has no right to contract with the DoD if it causes interference with important signals used by DoD equipment and systems. As of this writing, the defense bill has passed both the House and Senate with large bipartisan majorities. It will soon become law. Strike two.
Finally, the Senate confirmed Nathan Simington to the FCC. Simington is the right choice for the FCC. He supports the overhaul of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to end Big Tech’s censorship of conservative voices on social media platforms. He most recently served as an adviser to the NTIA, which coordinated all federal agency efforts to articulate the dangers of Ligado’s plan, including in filings with the FCC. He appreciates that in approving Ligado’s order in April, the FCC overruled objections from 14 separate government agencies — all tasked with ensuring the safety of operations dependent on GPS and satellite communications signals.
Nathan Simington knows the process has been broken and will ensure the FCC does a better job of engaging with federal agencies in the future. Hit three for the future of Ligado.
Investors have to decide for themselves whether they can trust Ligado’s future viability – but I doubt he’s been clear about the reality of what’s happening in Washington. If he didn’t divulge those three strikes, what else could he be hiding? Three strikes should be enough to show investors that they should no longer trust Ligado with more capital.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.