UPDATE In one of his last actions while Ajit Pai was still FCC Chairman, the agency late Tuesday voted 3-2 to reject a bid by U.S. government agencies to stop the Commission decision to allow Ligado Networks to deploy a nationwide mobile broadband network.
In May, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration asked the FCC, on behalf of executive branch agencies, including the Defense and Transportation departments, to stay the Ligado decision. The NTIA, DoD, Homeland Security and other agencies argued that Commission approval would cause “irreparable harms to federal government users” of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Reuters noted.
The FCC ruled that NTIA did not satisfy the requirements of a stay. The agency also said in its decision that Ligado’s deployment plans are not finalized and the company is talking with federal agencies about the network’s potential impact on government GPS systems. Pai said it was time to put the “long-underused spectrum” to use and the technical evidence demonstrates the FCC made the right decision.
In its rejection of the stay request, the Commission noted that Ligado must provide six months’ notice to GPS manufacturers prior to activation, negotiate network partnership agreements, and secure $800 million in the capital markets to fund its infrastructure build-out.
The Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, International Air Transport Association and Airlines for America, Iridium Communications and Lockheed Martin last year also filed petitions asking the FCC to reconsider. Ligado did not respond to a request for comment.