We criticize banks and other lenders for not investing enough, or fast enough, to spur economic growth, yet we have government officials putting up one roadblock after another in front of a company that is looking to invest billions of dollars in new, private — not government — investment, create tens of thousands of new jobs and provide access to wireless broadband for millions of Americans living in rural areas.
It’s not unreasonable for the federal government and policymakers to hold LightSquared and any other private-sector firm accountable for what it will do with its technology, and how it will implement it. That’s something we should expect government to do.
What is not reasonable is forcing the private sector to jump through hoops that drain its resources, delay the implementation of its technology and undermine the economic opportunities that await millions of Americans who can be quickly connected to technology that will transform their lives the way electricity and running water did a generation ago.
We can still protect the GPS system and unleash the amazing potential of LightSquared’s network. The wise and efficient use of the spectrum is vital to America’s economy, and an acute shortage of broadband capacity is already at hand. We have to solve these problems — not just shoot them down politically — and let the private marketplace tackle these marketplace needs.
If we do not allow private companies like LightSquared to move forward to conquer the broadband deficit that plagues our nation, we will fall further and further behind. We are telling millions of Americans families, from rural communities and elsewhere, that we are more concerned about politics than we are about their economic future.
If we want to unleash the economic power of America, we need to remove the barriers from private companies that are willing to take the risks to create jobs for millions of Americans.
It’s time for the technology revolution to no longer be a promise for millions of Americans; it’s time for it to be reality.
And, it’s time for government to get out of the way and let the LightSquareds of America lead the way.
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) is a paid adviser for LightSquared.