U.S. President Donald Trump has withdrawn his nomination to FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a six-year veteran who has been expected by many to serve a third term, Reuters reported. Mr. Trump withdrew his nomination less than a week after Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) suspended his nomination amid concerns about O’Rielly’s stance on the recently approved Ground 5G network.
At the heart of the conflict is a controversial 5G network recently approved by the commission. The proposed network will run on the L-band spectrum traditionally used by radar and GPS, and operated by Ligado Networks as a low-power ground system. In the proposal, Ligado promised to report its base stationand and operating parameters to avoid any interference with existing L-band users, but critics of the order remain concerned that the network could interfere with GPS systems.
Senator Inhofe, one of the critics, said: “It’s not just about our military, it’s about all GPS users who are united in their opposition.” Inhofe therefore tried to block ORielly’s nomination “until he publicly stated that he would vote to overturn the current Ligado Order.”
O’Rielly has also publicly questioned President Trump’s recent executive order, which would oblige the FCC to oversee Section 230 and social media regulation more broadly. “As a conservative, my troubling voice has been snuffed out by liberal tech leaders,” he wrote on Twitter. “At the same time, I’m very committed to the First Amendment, which manages a lot of things here.”
More recently, he has questioned the FCC’s authority to enforce orders in accordance with Trump’s intentions. “I have deep reservations about any intentional authorization they have given to them for this matter,” he said in a June interview with C-SPAN. In any case, the order is moving forward, with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) filing for rules last week and the FCC opening public comment on monday.
O’Rielly’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.