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Coalition supports NDAA provisions to protect GPS against Ligado

December 4, 2020  - By
Photo: Andrea Izzotti/

Photo: Andrea Izzotti/

The Keep GPS Working Coalition issued the following statement in support of the inclusion of provisions related to GPS in the William M. “Mac” Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. Provisions included are intended to protect GPS signals against interference, specifically against any caused by Ligado Networks.

The coalition was formed in response to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order allowing Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial wireless network that the coalition says will threaten the reception of millions of GPS devices.

The coalition stated,

“The Keep GPS Working Coalition applauds this year’s NDAA, which includes important provisions addressing the potential for interference to GPS caused by the use of the L-band spectrum owned by Ligado Networks. The inclusion of these provisions signals a clear understanding by Congress that preventing GPS interference is a matter of safeguarding our national security. First and foremost, the legislation provides for a thorough, independent review of the Federal Communications Commission decision allowing Ligado to operate its planned terrestrial wireless network.

“The FCC’s Ligado order, which relies heavily on inaccurate and incomplete technical submissions by Ligado, was issued despite national and economic security concerns raised by the Department of Defense, along with the Departments of Commerce, Interior, Justice, Homeland Security, Energy and Transportation, as well as NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration. Independent review is an important first step in ensuring that Ligado’s operations will not damage the nation’s critical GPS based infrastructure or the hundreds of millions of GPS devices used in critical activities. This review and the other NDAA provisions included will also help ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to hold Ligado accountable for all costs to U.S. taxpayers, businesses and consumers that will result from these operations.

“We are particularly grateful to Senators Inhofe and Reed and Representatives Smith, Thornberry, Turner and Cooper for their leadership on this critical issue.”

More than 50 organizations signed a Nov. 20 letter urging the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to continue their support for provisions aimed at protecting GPS from harmful interference from Ligado Networks’ planned network.

According to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “The bill protects both critical military applications and numerous civilian uses of the Global Positioning System (GPS) from potentially harmful interference, and outlines a path forward following the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to approve Ligado Networks’ request for bandwidth for a terrestrial-based cellular network that put critical GPS signals at risk. The bill prohibits the use of DOD funds to comply with the FCC Order on Ligado until the Secretary of Defense submits an estimate of the costs associated with the resulting GPS interference, and directs the Secretary of Defense to contract with the National Academies of Science and Engineering for an independent technical review of the order to provide additional technical evaluation to review Ligado’s and DOD’s approaches to testing. The bill also prohibits the Secretary of Defense from entering into or continuing a contract with any entity engaged in commercial terrestrial operations within the frequency bands specified in the Ligado FCC order.”

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.