31 Senators Urge FCC to Reconsider Ligado Order, Citing GPS Interference Concerns
Monday, May 18, 2020 | Comments

Thirty-one senators sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the five commissioners, urging the FCC to reconsider its April order allowing Ligado to deploy a terrestrial nationwide network, citing a lack of protection for potential GPS interference.

The bipartisan group of senators pushed back against the FCC’s decision, citing a process that they said ignored extensive research and lacks protection for critical GPS usages and satellite communications.

“We are concerned that the order does not adequately protect adjacent band operations — including those related to the GPS and satellite communications — from harmful interference that would impact countless commercial and military activities,” the senators wrote. “Furthermore, the hurried nature of the circulation and consideration of the order itself — during a national crisis, no less — was not conducive to addressing the many technical concerns raised by affected stakeholders.

“We urge the Federal Communications Commission to immediately stay and reconsider their order on this matter, more fully consider the technical concerns raised by numerous federal agencies and private sector stakeholders, and outline a path forward that adequately addresses these concerns.”

The senators said that the order allows Ligado to operate “at a power level that testing and studies have proven causes significant interference with GPS and satellite communications. The ‘mitigation’ strategies they’ve proposed in the order are not practical and do not provide adequate protections for such a critical system.”

Numerous federal agencies, including the departments of Defense, Transportation, Interior, Justice, Energy, Homeland Security, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Coast Guard and NASA, continuously opposed the order in its draft form.

Sen. Jim Inhofe May 6 chaired a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Department of Defense officials laid out the data and analysis behind their objections to the proposal. In advance of the hearing, a broad coalition of industry stakeholders sent a letter to senators expressing opposition to the FCC order as well.

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