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National Academies proposes team to study FCC Ligado decision

September 2, 2021  - By

NAS logoThe National Academies has announced its proposed team to examine the analysis and decision-making process by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the matter of Ligado Networks.

Individuals and organizations wishing to comment on the appropriateness of any of the members of that team or on any other aspect of this study have until Sept. 19.

The April 2020 decision by the FCC has generated significant controversy and opposition within the public and Congress. This resulted in, among other things, seven separate petitions for reconsideration being filed, all of which are still pending, and several provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021. One of those provisions requires the Department of Defense to sponsor a study of the technical assumptions and analyses that went into the FCC’s decision to allow Ligado Networks to operate.

According to the post on the National Academies website, the study will consider:

  1. Which of the two prevailing proposed approaches to evaluating harmful interference concerns — one based on a signal-to-noise interference protection criterion and the other based on a device-by-device measurement of the GPS position error — most effectively mitigates risks of harmful interference with GPS services and DOD operations and activities.
  2. The potential for harmful interference from the proposed Ligado network to mobile satellite services including GPS and other commercial or DOD services including the potential to affect Department of Defense (DOD) operations, and activities.
  3. The feasibility, practicality, and effectiveness of the mitigation measures proposed in the FCC order with respect to DOD devices, operations, and activities.”

This announcement is the first significant public step for the effort which is expected to take approximately 12 to 18 months. Sources say that there will likely be public and classified versions of the report. The classified version is likely to take significantly longer to compile.

Proposed study team members

Chair: J. Michael McQuade

Members:

  • Jennifer Lacroix Alvarez
  • Kristine M. Larson
  • John L. Manferdelli
  • Preston F. Marshall
  • Y. Jade Morton
  • Richard Reaser, Jr.
  • Jeffrey H. Reed
  • Nambirajan Seshadri
  • Stephen J. Stafford
  • Staff Officer: Jon Eisenberg

Individuals and organizations wishing to comment on these proposed team members may do so through the project web page.


Dana A. Goward is the President of the non-profit Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation.

About the Author: Dana Goward

Dana Goward is president of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation. He is the proprietor at Maritime Governance LLC. In August 2013, he retired from the federal Senior Executive Service, having served as the maritime navigation authority for the United States. As director of Marine Transportation Systems for the U.S. Coast Guard, he led 12 different navigation-related business lines budgeted at more than $1.3 billion per year. He has represented the U.S. at IMO, IALA, the UN anti-piracy working group and other international forums. A licensed helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, he has also served as a navigator at sea and is a retired Coast Guard Captain.