The FCC is pushing back hard on Republicans and Democrats and military brass who were sharply critical of the commission at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday (May 6).
The hearing featured only Department of Defense witnesses arguing the FCC had recklessly and hastily approved a "bait and switch" plan by Ligado to launch a terrestrial broadband service that would, by definition interfere with critical GPS systems like missile guidance and aircraft positioning.
"Given all of the untrue statements being made at the hearing, it is difficult to know where to begin," said a spokesman for FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
"For example, the repeated claim that federal agencies unanimously oppose our order is blatantly false, as our decision has been endorsed by the Secretary of State and Attorney General."
One Republican at the hearing did ask the witnesses about the support for the program by Attorney General Bill Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whether their position had changed and why they would have supported the Ligado decision if it were such a threat. There was no response.
"Moreover," said the spokesman, "the Department of Defense (and every executive branch agency that is part of the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee) was given our draft decision last autumn, so the assertion that they were blindsided by it this April is preposterous. More importantly, nothing said today changes the basic facts that the metric used by the Department of Defense to measure harmful interference does not, in fact, measure harmful interference and that the testing on which they are relying took place at dramatically higher power levels than the FCC approved.
"The bottom line here is that the FCC made a unanimous, bipartisan decision based on sound engineering principles" the spokesman said. "We stand by that decision 100% and will not be dissuaded by baseless fearmongering."