Washington, D.C. – Mike O’Rielly, former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was removed from his position by President Trump on August 3. This comes as a shock to many, as O’Rielly was appointed by a Senate panel in July 2020. O’Rielly, a former congressional aide, has been on the FCC since 2013.
There’s speculation that O’Rielly’s removal may have to do with his remarks during a recent speech at the Media Institute’s Luncheon Series. He encouraged the public to “reject demands, in the name of the First Amendment (freedom of speech), for private actors to curate or publish in a certain way.” Some observers believe that O’Rielly was referencing President Trump’s May executive order, preventing online censorship on social media sites. Later in the speech, O’Rielly made it clear he was not attacking President Trump or the White House.
This revocation may also concern O’Rielly’s pursuit of bringing 5G networks all over the United States. In an April letter to the president, O’Rielly said, “For America to be a global leader and win the race to 5G technologies, which we must do for both economic and national security reasons, we must actively identify and make available a key ingredient necessary for 5G networks and systems: mid-band spectrum.” Mid-band or Sub-6 is the spectrum used for most wireless data transmissions. (The FCC had also reached a unanimous decision with American satellite communications company, Ligado Networks, to launch a lower-grade, nationwide mobile broadband network.)
One Senate member was particularly vocal about his opposition to the decision to re-nominate O’Rielly. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, said he would not permit O’Rielly’s tenure as FCC Commissioner to continue until O’Rielly “committed…to vote to overturn the [FCC-Ligado Networks] order.” Inhofe went on to say the FCC-Ligado Networks decision was “flawed” and would bring “significant harm” to the U.S. military and those who rely on G.P.S. systems.
Who will replace FCC Commissioner O’Rielly, and will the FCC continue to pursue this deal with Ligado Networks to implement 5G networks across the country?
Image credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
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- “Remarks of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly Before The Media Institute’s Luncheon Series: July 29, 2020”
- “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship”
- Mike O’Rielly’s letter to President Trump: April 8, 2020
- “Inhofe to Hold FCC Commissioner Nomination”
- “O’Rielly Re-nomination Dismissed”
- “Not All 5G Is Equal: Millimeter Wave, Low-Band, and Mid-Band Explained”