Why Does Obama Want to Kill LightSquared?

Executive director of Digital Liberty, Kelly William Cobb, and Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist had an op-ed on FoxNews.com last week about the Obama administration's attempt to kill the new wireless startup company LightSquared. You can read the entire op-ed or excerpts from this case of regulatory capture below:

When Congress acted last month to free much-needed spectrum for mobile broadband, they did so to keep consumer phone bills low and improve broadband service. In the very same week, however, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took steps to shut the doors of a brand new start-up wireless company whose existence would provide similar benefits.

LightSquared was granted permission under the Bush administration to launch an innovative new wireless network combining satellites and cell towers. With initial approval, the company began its $14 billion build-out of the network years ago. Then, after billions of dollars already spent, compliance with numerous FCC conditions and regulations, and years of planning, the Obama administration's FCC announced it plans to vacate the decision it made seven years ago, effectively shutting down all of LightSquared’s operations before the network could even be launched.

This debacle is the direct result of lobbying by the GPS industry and various government agencies, which complained to a cowering FCC that the new wireless network would interfere with their devices. There is natural interference between wireless frequencies, a gray area where one person’s property ends and another’s begins. However, in this instance the GPS devices are the ones causing interference by looking directly into LightSquared’s signal. …

Critics of LightSquared claim this is a case of politically motivated crony capitalism; that the White House pulled strings to help the company out. But this is the opposite of what is happening. The White House is trying to kill LightSquared like they did the Keystone Pipeline. They’re not artificially propping it up like Solyndra.

This is a case of anti-free market regulatory capture, where GPS companies and the federal agencies they do business with coordinated to stop LightSquared, as e-mails between Defense Department officials recently revealed. The GPS industry even teamed up with bureaucrats in the Pentagon and other departments to leak a preliminary report on interference issues solely to undermine LightSquared.

For the full op-ed, click here.