FCC Chairman Pushes Back on Ligado Criticism in Letter to Lawmakers
Thursday, May 28, 2020 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pushed back on criticism of the FCC’s April order allowing Ligado to begin operations in a letter to lawmakers saying the action will not compromise U.S. safety or security.

Pai said the proceeding included strict conditions to ensure that GPS operations continue to be protected from harmful interference. These include a 99% reduction in power for downlink operations. Ligado must establish a 23-megahertz guard band using its own licensed spectrum.

The letter, a response to a May 6 letter from 23 members of the House, also said that plenty of time and research was provided before the decision.

“Moreover, your letter implies that the Department of Defense lacked an opportunity to present to the commission, and in particular the commissioners, technical information concerning the Ligado application,” Pai said. “This is false. It is indisputable that the Department of Defense was provided with numerous opportunities over nearly a decade to provide the commission with any relevant evidence it wished to submit.”

The FCC’s L-band decision does not authorize any spectrum sharing between Ligado and GPS, Pai said. “Thus, any implication that the commission has authorized Ligado to ‘share’ spectrum that is currently allocated to GPS is incorrect,” the letter said. “GPS has no right to operate in the spectrum in question, so there is nothing for Ligado to share.”

Pai’s full letter to the House members is here.

Earlier this week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) filed a petition for stay of the FCC order authorizing Ligado Networks to begin operations. NITA also filed a petition for reconsideration or clarification requesting that concerns of harmful interference to federal government and other GPS devices be resolved.

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