Grover Norquist Shills for Obama Crony’s Wireless Boondoggle

Grover G Norquist - ATR

I got an email – below – from Grover Norquist at ATR requesting the recipients take action and sign a petition to free up spectrum for wireless expansion. All well and good, but the thinly veiled subplot was to demand that Congress force the FCC to permit Obama cronies Lightsquared to use spectrum adjacent to the GPS band, regardless of interference to GPS, in order to prop up the shaky company, in which Obama and crooked cronies had invested.

Grover is shilling for an Obama crony here and should be ashamed.

Philip Falcone, Harbinger Group CEO

Lightsquared is a worthless boondoggle with a dubious business plan and a corrupt hedge fund as its main stakeholder. They could not get spectrum normally because they could not attract sufficient investment to bid for it, so they inverted the process – by getting a waiver to use a slice of spectrum reserved for space to ground communications, and too close for comfort to the GPS band, they attracted money and bailed out early investors even though they knew they could not get their system to work without causing major misery for GPS users.

The pleasant surprise here is that the FCC finally realized how much harm would be done if Lightsquared was permitted to go live and wipe out GPS over broad areas. The unpleasant surprise was Grover Norquist riding to the rescue of a dubious company, whjich was not only run by “Friends of Barry”, but in which Obama himself had invested $90,000 a few years back

More spectrum auctions, yes.
The FCC simply helping to resolve spectrum conflicts and “property” disputes, yes.
Less regulations restricting wireless companies, yes.
Promoting crony capitalism, hell no!
Shame on Grover for letting Americans for Tax Reform get dragged into an area way outside their expertise.

==============Original Request from ATR to Members==============
On Feb 13, 2012, at 17:08, Grover Norquist wrote:

Dear Friend,

Once again, the Obama administration is holding jobs and private investment hostage with regulatory uncertainty. You’ve already heard about the Keystone Pipeline. This time, they’re stalling almost every attempt to expand mobile broadband in America.

The Obama administration has failed to put more spectrum for mobile broadband onto the market, which will help prevent dropped calls and improve service. They’ve stalled phone companies from purchasing more spectrum and demanded more regulatory power to handpick the companies that get it. Now, they’re using the regulatory process to stop a start-up company from building a brand new wireless network.

LightSquared has committed $14 billion in private investment to bring more broadband to America, create tens of thousands of jobs, and unleash new competition in the market. They’ve played by the federal government’s rules and were granted spectrum under the Bush administration. But now government agencies are working to kill this new network, and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines instead of allowing this spectrum to be put to use. Click here and urge Congress to tell Obama’s bureaucrats to stop killing thousands of new jobs and much-needed investment in the economy. Tell them we need more mobile broadband now!

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has created a morass of job-killing regulatory uncertainty. But in a sputtering economy, government should not be standing in the way of new jobs, private investment, and new innovation.

Tell your lawmaker to stop the administration from hindering economic growth. It’s time to unleash more spectrum to expand broadband. Visit ATR’s Digital Liberty and take action now!

Grover Norquist
President Americans for Tax Reform

==============My reply to ATR==============
From: Mike Rogers <>
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2012 20:20:30 -0500
To: Grover Norquist <>

Dear Grover,

Not so fast on LightSquared!
It’s a really, really bad, dumb, idea!
LightSquared, formerly known as SkyTerra is an Obama crony company with a very dubious business proposition, and have only been able to secure funding because the Obama FCC suggested it might release spectrum to them.
Here’s the problem: The spectrum they want to use is intended for space to ground communication, and is adjacent to the GPS band, which is, of course, also space to ground.
Let’s suppose for a moment that you are tuning across the AM bands, and you find a weak signal. Next to it is another weak signal, and you can tune from one to the other, easily distinguishing the different programs.
Now imagine that a loud local station is granted a license near the distant station you had been listening to for years – local station sounds great, but you have to tune a good way away from it before you can hear any weak stations – your distant station cannot be heard clearly, if at all.
Why is this relevant? Because GPS is that weak station you had been listening to, and the proper use for the band Lightsquared seeks is for other weak stations, EG ones that would not overpower your weak station. If LightSquared gets a license to put powerful ground stations in the band next to GPS, those weak GPS satellite signals will be drowned out of existence.
Now, back to our analogy: The loud station drowns out your favorite channel, and you complain to the station owner and regulators about their overly broad, poorly filtered signal. Imagine your anger if the new station owners and the regulators said, sorry, sir, that nice radio that you have, which has been perfectly adequate for ten years, will have to get a difficult and expensive retrofit to keep the intruding signal out, and imagine the people’s anger when they find out that all the radios in the stores had to be withdrawn and replaced with more expensive models that had the requisite filters?
Now, back to LightSquared vs GPS: imagine one day, LightSquared goes live in a few major cities, where GPS is already poorly received, and all of a sudden GPS stops working! After you buy a map and find your way home (remember those?) you call your GPS maker and they apologize, but say that the intruding signal was allowed by the FCC, and the only cure is a new GPS with a new type of receiver which is able to cope with the noise and overload. You call the FCC, one of whose prime tasks is policing interference, and they say that the new signal is properly licensed, and you’ll just have to suck it up.
Angry yet? You will be when your GPS quits in unfamiliar territory!
Lower taxes, yes. Less burdensome regulations, yes.
Abdicating the proper responsibility of the FCC to prop up an Obama crony? Hell no!
Please google LightSquared, Skyterra, Obama, boondoggle, GPS, interference, in various combinations, and you’ll see what I mean.
Please stick to fiscal issues, and let the engineers fight bad engineering.

Mike Rogers

(Of course he didn’t answer me, and then, Wednesday, we heard that the FCC had voted down Lightsquared. But had Grover and his buddy Kelly William Cobb taken down their petition to pressure Congress on behalf of these crony capitalists? Noooo!)

==============Background Reading==============

(Click on any link to read the whole reference that I am quoting from.)

Start-Up’s Network Rejected; GPS Cited LightSquared’s plan was to act as a telecommunications wholesaler, selling use of its network to wireless companies and others who in turn sell high-speed Internet service to the public. The plan drew complaints from GPS users including the military and farmers. They said the new network could overwhelm GPS signals, which use nearby frequencies, and knock out service.

LightSquared received conditional FCC approval in early 2011 and said the technical issues could be resolved. But as the year went on, the company took one battering in Washington after another, as the Defense Department and other agencies amplified the interference concerns.

NLPC: SEC Cracking Down on LightSquared’s Falcone?  Billionaire Phil Falcone, whose cozy relationship with the Obama Administration was first exposed by NLPC, may face civil fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to a filing yesterday by Harbinger Group Inc., Falcone and two other directors have received “Wells Notices,” meaning that they are under investigation.

Falcone is the Chairman, CEO and primary investor in Harbinger Group Inc., a hedge fund. Reportedly, other Harbinger investors include Soros Fund Management. Harbinger owns LightSquared, which has received an unusual waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy a national 4G wireless network.

It has also been alleged that Falcone personally borrowed more than $100 million from the hedge fund to pay a personal tax obligation.

The FCC waiver came after it approved Harbinger’s acquisition of a company called SkyTerra, which Harbinger renamed LightSquared. In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama invested $90,000 in the obscure, thinly traded SkyTerra. Obama was put into the investment by a UBS broker at the behest of a major donor to Obama’s campaigns named George W. Haywood, who was also a major SkyTerra investor.

Spar Point: This LightSquared battle is getting nasty Let’s start with Norquist. The anti-tax crusader joined with Kelly William Cobb, of an organization called Digital Liberty, which “advocates for a consumer-driven market free from heavy regulation or taxation of the Internet, technology, telecommunications, video games, and media,” to pen a piece for The Hill, which is well read in Washington circles. Its title? “FCC can prevent crisis by moving on Spectrum now.” I’m not entirely sure why spectrum is capitalized there, but let’s ignore that for the moment. The thrust of the piece is that wireless companies, and their consumers, need more spectrum on which to transmit phone calls, media, communications of all sorts, and that the government is standing in the way.

There are specious arguments throughout the piece (the early leader in the clubhouse was “they helped kill the AT&T/T-Mobile merger aimed at using spectrum more efficiently to expand coverage and capacity.” Really? I thought AT&T just wanted to make a whole bunch more cash and limit my carrier options – silly me), but they quickly come around to LightSquared, which, given the timing of the piece, was likely the whole point:

Yet, when the GPS industry and federal departments complained that LightSquared’s network could interfere with some GPS devices, the Commission quickly quieted, cowered, and slowed the company’s plans. The GPS industry used influence with bureaucrats in the federal government to curb progress, even leading to the Pentagon and other agencies leaking a preliminary report on spectrum interference in an effort to tarnish LightSquared’s public image. While progress has been made by setting up a working group between stakeholders, the Commission has largely bowed to this outside pressure. Instead, they should be working to facilitate a solution.

Well, I guess that’s one way to look at it. In the very next paragraph, the authors acknowledge that this is a technology issue, not really a political issue, but they, themselves, are making it a political issue. Who said the FCC isn’t trying to figure out a solution?

The Department of Defense put a hold on this because they need their GPS devices to work without having to invest a whole bunch of money they don’t have right now. Is the DoD really known as an easily “cowered” organization? Please.

The simple facts, which no one really denies, are that LightSquared’s transmissions interfere with many GPS devices currently in use. Especially affected are those sensitive devices used in commercial and governmental operations.