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HomeKey senators renew push to undo FCC's Ligado spectrum ruling

Key senators renew push to undo FCC’s Ligado spectrum ruling

Telecommunication tower with mesh dots, glittering particles for wireless telecommunication technology

Telecommunication tower with mesh dots, glittering particles for wi-fi telecommunication know-how (Getty pictures)

WASHINGTON — A gaggle of eight senators has relaunched the long-simmering battle to overturn a 2020 resolution by the Federal Communications Fee that granted spectrum rights to wi-fi agency Ligado — rights the Protection Division and different authorities organizations say would imperil the usage of GPS.

The renewed push comes simply over a month earlier than Ligado expects to launch its community, and just some weeks earlier than the due date for a Congressionally-mandated report on whether or not the corporate’s system will certainly affect GPS for each navy and industrial customers.

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In a letter issued Wednesday to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, the senators urge the FCC “to remain and rethink” its earlier resolution. “We stay extraordinarily involved that terrestrial L-band operations would trigger unacceptable threat to Division of Protection (DOD), the Federal Authorities World Positioning System (GPS), and Satellite tv for pc Communications (SATCOM) operations,” the senators mentioned.

The letter was penned by Senate Armed Providers Committee Chair Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rating Member Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., neither of whom are strangers to the Ligado case, which roiled the nationwide safety group and divided the Trump administration.

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The 2 SASC leaders efficiently pushed language within the fiscal 2021 Nationwide Protection Authorization Act designed to complicate implementation of the Ligado community, together with a requirement for an intensive and unbiased overview by the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medication funded by DoD.

In accordance with the National Academies website the overview “will contemplate how greatest to judge dangerous interference to civilian and protection customers of GPS, the potential for dangerous interference to GPS customers and DOD actions, and the effectiveness and feasibility of the mitigation measures proposed within the FCC order.” The outcomes of that overview are scheduled to be released on Sept. 9. (Curiously, the FY21 NDAA additionally mandated that DoD present Congress with record of GPS receivers that may be affected and estimate the prices — a report that, if accomplished, hasn’t been launched to the general public.

Additionally signing on the latest letter the place three members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the committee that really has jurisdiction over the FCC: Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ailing., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. That is important, as through the first spherical of Ligado debate, then Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., primarily sided with the FCC’s resolution. Wicker, now the rating member of that committee, is extensively anticipated to take the chairmanship of the SASC (Inhofe is retiring) if Republicans take management of the Senate following mid-term elections.

“Now we have acquired and [are] reviewing the letter,” an FCC spokesperson replied tersely to Breaking Protection’s request for remark right this moment.

Ligado has previously has routinely batted away the criticisms as over-hyping the potential for interference, and has insisted that it has been making efforts to work with customers to mitigate any potential issues.

“After greater than a decade of scientific overview, the nation’s spectrum consultants on the FCC decided the concessions Ligado made and the situations within the April 2020 FCC Order defend GPS. No concrete proof on the contrary has been put forth by any personal entity or authorities company, together with the Protection Division, regardless of repeated requests,” an organization spokesperson mentioned in an announcement.

“If there is a matter DOD is worried about, the easiest way to resolve it’s for the DOD and Ligado to work by these points as quickly as potential, because the FCC Order requires and as Congress has mandated. The science and info help the FCC’s unanimous, bipartisan resolution to grant Ligado’s spectrum, and if there are DOD GPS receivers working in our licensed spectrum that have to be upgraded, Ligado is prepared to take action.”

The Case To Date

DoD and lots of different businesses, together with the Transportation Division, have opposed the deliberate Ligado (previously LightSquared) community for practically a decade. The businesses, in addition to many customers within the industrial sector similar to aviation, have vociferously argued that the ability stage of the L-band alerts Ligado plans to make use of in its cell towers, often reserved for satellites, will jam GPS satellite tv for pc receivers.

Ligado simply as vehemently has rebutted Pentagon claims in quite a few filings to the FCC — asserting they’re primarily based on outdated Air Drive checks and technically flawed assumptions. And former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by President Donald Trump, wholeheartedly agreed with the agency each in his written ruling in 2020 in addition to throughout quite a few Capital Hill hearings.

On April 20, 2020, the FCC unanimously determined to approve Ligado’s spectrum license, with all 5 commissioners from each political events agreeing. The backlash was swift, however the months-long cantankerous public debate primarily died down following a Jan. 19, 2021 FCC vote to reject a petition by the Nationwide Telecommunications and Data Administration (NTIA) to remain and reopen the case. The NTIA coordinates use of spectrum by US authorities businesses, together with DoD.

With the change in administration, and the appointment of Roscenworcel as FCC chair, the hopes of Ligado opponents had been barely raised — as throughout a June 2020 Senate Commerce Committee listening to Roscenworcel had mentioned that she personally would help a keep of the choice to be able to reexamine the arguments. Nevertheless, thus far, no resolution has been made.

In truth, the problem has largely dropped from the highlight. Maybe probably the most notable feedback on it got here final December, when Caitlin Durkovich, Nationwide Safety Council director for Response and Resilience, urged that the NSC and the White Home would possibly weigh in on the Ligado problem, citing Biden administration considerations about its impacts.

GPS is “nonetheless a major single level of failure in our nation,” she advised a Dec. 9 meeting of the Nationwide House-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Advisory Board. Nevertheless, Durkovich famous then that any dialogue with the FCC must wait till there’s a full slate of commissioners. At present, there are solely 4 of 5: two Democrats and two Republicans.

Additional, the affirmation of the Biden administration’s nominee for the fifth seat, Gigi Sohn, has been stalled within the Senate for months. Sohn, a Democrat, is a vocal internet neutrality advocate and thus has raised Republican considerations. (The FCC as an unbiased company created by Congress will not be legally beholden to the White Home.)

The NSC didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Ligado’s Progress

In the meantime, Ligado in January introduced a cope with Choose Spectrum to promote entry to its licensed spectrum to be used by personal wi-fi networks, similar to these utilized by utility corporations. That is after years of speculation amongst gamers within the spectrum market that the corporate had hoped to promote the mid-band spectrum to a giant public supplier similar to AT&T or Verizon slightly than function it personal community.

The corporate has lengthy countered that hypothesis, and has mentioned that it intends to face up its personal 5G operational community on the finish of September.

“Ligado is making swift progress to organize its L-Band spectrum for 5G, together with standardizing the spectrum bands by 3GPP,” the corporate’s web site states. “We’re additionally working intently with ecosystem companions like device-makers, chipset distributors, base station distributors and different ecosystem suppliers to assist guarantee a wide selection of {hardware} is appropriate with the L–Band.”

For instance, the corporate in June introduced an accord with Nokia “to develop 5G base station radios appropriate with Ligado’s L-Band spectrum.”



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