Despite initial opposition from the Coast Guard, the Pentagon, the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Commerce and Interior, plus NASA and the FAA, the Federal Communications Commission has given a private equity firm permission to run a 5G wireless network that could harm the reliability of GPS signals.
BoatUS, part of a new group called the Keep GPS Working Coalition, also opposes the ruling. “With this decision, the FCC is permitting one private company to upend the entire reliability of GPS,” said David Kennedy, the BoatUS manager of government affairs. “It’s unfathomable that the lone federal caretaker of our national radio spectrum shows such disregard, even after admitting there are cases where federal and private GPS users will suffer harmful interference. It’s a message that says ‘tough luck’ – you are on your own.”
The FCC made its ruling after intense lobbying by Ligado Networks, a private equity firm based in Reston, Virginia. Since it emerged from bankruptcy n 2016, Ligado has spent $7.9 million on lobbying to win the FCC’s approval, according to Bloomberg News, hiring several lobbying firms with close ties to President Trump, his reelection campaign, and the Republican National Committee.
In its ruling, the FCC gave Ligado permission to build and run a land-based 5G wireless network on a spectrum that is near the lower frequency bands used by hundreds of millions of GPS units around the world. All the organizations opposed to the ruling believe that interference with GPS signals will increase as a result.
BoatUS says that current GPS owners will have to buy a new GPS unit or suffer interference with their GPS signal. Any degradation or interference with a GPS signal would pose a significant and immediate threat to recreational boating.
To help win approval from the FCC, Ligado hired Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, who also leads the lobbying firm of Cove Strategies. The company says it “specializes in established relationships and connections to Republican officeholders and center-right influencers.”
Ligado hired more than half a dozen other lobbying firms, including Miller Strategies, which is run by Jeff Miller, a major fund-raiser for President Trump. Records show that Ligado has paid Miller Strategies at least $390,000 since February, according to Bloomberg. Its records show its efforts were focused almost exclusively on the offices of the President and the Vice President.
Since early 2019, Miller himself has raised almost $2.8 million for Trump Victory, a joint venture between President Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee. Over the same period, Miller has donated $77,300 of his personal money to President Trump’s reelection committees. Read more: