Senators Introduce Bill That Would Make Ligado Responsible for GPS Interference Costs
Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Comments

Three U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would make Ligado responsible for the costs of potential interference to GPS from its 5G network.

“GPS and satellite communications don’t only impact our military; we rely on it for so much of our day-to-day lives, which is why we need to take steps to protect not just the federal government from the harmful decision, but all state and local governments, private entities and consumers too,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the sponsors of the bill. “Our nation has an integrated public and private sector infrastructure to support the reliability and use of GPS and satellite communications to navigate our cars and boats for recreation and commerce, to plow our fields, to manage equipment for transportation construction projects, to track our exercise and to predict weather patterns. The list goes on. When Ligado’s effort to repurpose spectrum causes interference in the infrastructure of those systems, as tests have shown it will, consumers and taxpayers shouldn’t bear the burden of updating countless systems. That cost should only be borne by the responsible party: Ligado.”

In April, the FCC approved Ligado’s application to deploy a 5G network in the L-band despite a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommendation to deny the application. In May, the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) filed a petition to stay and reconsider the Ligado order and a group of Senators sent a letter criticizing the decision. Those groups argued that the approval did not provide enough protection for critical GPS usage and satellite communications in the band.

Inhofe has been a particularly outspoken critic of the decision to allow Ligado to deploy the network in the L-band because of concerns that it could cause interference to GPS that could jeopardize U.S. military operations. He was joined in sponsoring the bill by Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Mike Rounds.

The legislation would require Ligado to cover the cost for correcting any interference that its operations cause to public or private GPS operations. The FCC’s order mandates that Ligado upgrade or replace government devices impacted by its network but didn’t specify what those costs are and did not cover the private sector, a statement from Inhofe noted. The bill specifically outlines all potential costs that Ligado must cover, including engineering, construction, site acquisition, research, personnel or contracting staff, labor costs and more and applies that to the private sector as well as the public sector.

“As a founding co-chair of the Congressional GPS Caucus, I’m proud to help Senator Inhofe introduce bipartisan legislation that will help make sure Ligado Networks is accountable for covering the costs of addressing any harmful interference that results from deployment of its proposed wireless network,” said Duckworth. “Given the continued concerns regarding Ligado’s efforts from stakeholders like the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, NTIA and countless industries that rely on GPS and satellite communications, Congress should establish clear pre-conditions that Ligado must meet before the FCC order may go into effect.”

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