UPDATE A group of U.S. agencies on Friday asked the FCC to reconsider its unanimous April decision to allow Ligado Networks to deploy a low-power nationwide mobile broadband network, saying it could pose a threat to global positioning systems (GPS).
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration filed a request on behalf of executive branch agencies, including the Defense and Transportation departments, saying the approval will cause “irreparable harms to federal government users” of GPS. NTIA asked the FCC to “prevent Ligado from deploying its network until this petition is addressed and harmful interference concerns are resolved,” Reuters reported.
The Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, International Air Transport Association and Airlines for America, Iridium Communications and Lockheed Martin last week also filed petitions asking the FCC to reconsider, Inside Towers reported. In addition, 32 U.S. senators said U.S. military operations could be harmed by the network proposed by Ligado, formerly known as LightSquared, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2015.
The wireless satellite venture Ligado said, “the Department of Defense, its contractors, and their special interest lobbyists have blanketed the Hill to spread misinformation and distort the exhaustive, engineering, and fact-driven process that the FCC, under two administrations, led. GPS will not be harmed,” according to the account.
Ligado wants to deploy a ground and satellite-based network on L-band, with a guard band in-between it and GPS licenses, used by the military, businesses and consumers. Ligado and the FCC say a lower power level and the guard band should prevent harmful interference. The federal agencies disagree, saying any interference with GPS is dangerous.
Ligado has been working for years to deploy a 5G network. It says the spectrum is crucial for wide-scale deployment because it can be used for in-building penetration and greater coverage at lower costs. The company will, “repair or replace at Ligado’s cost any government and device shown to be susceptible to harmful interference,” according to Reuters.
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