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Inhofe, Reed urge FCC to stay and reconsider Ligado order

August 18, 2022  - By

A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging the agency to stay and reconsider the Ligado Networks order.

U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led the group in sending the letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, urging her to reconsider granting Ligado’s license modification request.

Ligado wants to use a part of the communications spectrum in a way that risks interference with GPS reception, a move that has been decried by many industry insiders as well as other government agencies, including the departments of Defense and Transportation.

The timing of the letter is critical, as Ligado has announced its intention to deploy a terrestrial network as soon as Sept. 30. The National Academy of Sciences plans to release a report on the FCC’s order at a public online briefing at 11 a.m. ET Sept. 9. The report will be available at National Academies Press at that same time.

Imminent Risks

Joining Inhofe and Reed were Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

The senators write: “Staying and reconsidering the Ligado Order is necessary to address the imminent risks associated with Ligado’s intention to ‘commence operations in the 1526-1536 Mhz band on or after September 30, 2022.’ We remain gravely concerned that the Ligado Order fails to adequately protect adjacent band operations — including those related to GPS and satellite communications — from harmful interference impacting countless military and commercial activities.

“We urge you to set aside the Ligado Order and give proper consideration to the widely held concerns across the Executive Branch, within Congress, and from the private sector regarding the expected impact of the Ligado Order on national security and other systems,” the senators continued.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chairwoman Rosenworcel:

We write to you today to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stay and reconsider the FCC’s order granting the applications of Ligado Networks LLC (Ligado) to deploy a terrestrial wireless network in the L-band satellite spectrum neighborhood, FCC 20-48, adopted April 19, 2020 (the Ligado Order). We remain extremely concerned that terrestrial L-band operations would cause unacceptable risk to Department of Defense (DOD), the Federal Government Global Positioning System (GPS), and Satellite Communications (SATCOM) operations.

Prior to the issuance of the Ligado Order, fourteen federal agencies and departments expressed strong opposition to the applications sought by Ligado over concerns about potential harmful interference with GPS operations. In May 2020, shortly following the issuance of the Ligado Order, on behalf of the executive branch, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) petitioned the FCC to reconsider its decision. That filing requested that the FCC “rescind its approval of the mobile satellite service (MSS) license modification applications” granted to Ligado, which the NTIA asserted would “cause irreparable harms” to federal government GPS users.

Staying and reconsidering the Ligado Order is necessary to address the imminent risks associated with Ligado’s intention to “commence operations in the 1526-1536 Mhz band on or after September 30, 2022.” We remain gravely concerned that the Ligado Order fails to adequately protect adjacent band operations—including those related to GPS and satellite communications—from harmful interference impacting countless military and commercial activities. We urge you to set aside the Ligado Order and give proper consideration to the widely held concerns across the Executive Branch, within Congress, and from the private sector regarding the expected impact of the Ligado Order on national security and other systems.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that federal spectrum policy adequately protects the millions of military and commercial users who rely on L-band satellite services every day.

Feature photo: Brian Kinney/Shutterstock.com

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.