Dozens of private-sector entities planned today to join in petitions for reconsideration of the FCC’s Ligado Networks LLC order, including aviation and aerospace interests, Iridium Communications, Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp., the Resilient Navigation and Timing (RNT) Foundation, and Trimble, Inc., a manufacturer of Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment.
Petitions for reconsideration of the order, which was adopted last month (TR Daily, April 20), are due tomorrow, but the private-sector entities planned to file them tonight. The order, which was unanimously adopted in IB dockets 11-109 and 12-340, unanimously approved Ligado’s license modification request to deploy a nationwide terrestrial broadband network in the L-band.
A news release today provided details on some of the entities that planned to join in the petitions. The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) filed a petition yesterday asking the Commission to reverse its decision (TR Daily, May 20). At least six additional private-sector petitions are expected to be filed.
“Petitioners will ask the FCC to reconsider its prior decision, which has generated widespread opposition within the Administration, on Capitol Hill and from other aviation and satellite spectrum users,” the news release said. “Petitioners include the Airline Pilots Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, aviation interests (including the Cargo Airline Association, the International Air Transport Association and Airlines for America), Iridium Communications, Lockheed Martin, Trimble and the RNT Foundation.”
The news release added that the petitioners plan to “argue the FCC’s Order ignored or improperly disregarded the great majority of evidence, including technical analyses submitted by parties, showing harmful interference and relied instead on easily disproven claims that Ligado will provide a so-called 5G service. The L-band is not included in any internationally-recognized 5G standard, the spectrum is not harmonized regionally or globally for 5G, FCC’s 5G FAST Plan does not include Ligado or L-Band spectrum nor does the company have enough contiguous spectrum.”
Airlines for America said in a statement that it “strongly supports a broad industry coalition that has led at least 32 US Senators from both sides of the aisle to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stay and reconsider granting Ligado Networks’ petition to repurpose critical frequency spectrum for ‘5G’ terrestrial communications services. The FCC’s rushed order in April ignored testing protocols intended to protect critical users likely to be impacted, including aviation uses of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for navigation, and satellite communications. Beyond industry opposition, the US Department of Defense also strongly opposed the FCC’s action. Additionally, A4A is joining other industry constituents in directly petitioning the FCC to reverse its course, the effects of which could impact the safety of the flying public and impact operations, especially harmful outcomes in the recovery period following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Aerospace Industries Association said, “Uninterrupted access to GPS is essential not only for our industry, but also for the American people, our national security, and the strength of the U.S. economy. This access is now threatened by the FCC’s decision to grant Ligado Networks’ application, despite years of evidence and the concerns outlined by several federal agencies about potential interference. With this motion, we are banding together to urge the FCC to reconsider this decision and allow safety and data to drive their decision-making on spectrum.”
The International Air Transport Association said, “Approving Ligado’s spectrum for 5G poses a strong risk of interference with GPS signals, including the potential interruption of GPS signals at low altitudes. The FCC should reverse this decision.”
Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc. (ASRI), which manages radio communications licensing for the aviation industry in the U.S. and its territories, said, “In jointly filing a petition for reconsideration of the FCC’s recent decision on Ligado Networks’ proposal, ASRI joins the wider aviation community in expressing our view that the decision is based on a fundamentally flawed interpretation of the data that have been presented to the Commission. Among other deficiencies, the FCC’s decision ignores the FAA’s reservations cited by the Department of Transportation, having implications for many low-level aircraft operators including helicopters and UAVs. The FCC Order also seems to acknowledge the mounting evidence that aviation safety satellite communications will receive interference, but it relies on the completion of private negotiations to resolve these questions while giving Ligado a green light to proceed, rather than requiring specific mitigations itself. ASRI believes the FCC should revisit its decision in conjunction with aviation experts to ensure the safety of air transport, medivac and other essential aviation operators are not affected by this decision.”
Matt Desch, chief executive officer of Iridium, said, “The FCC’s Ligado action prioritizes economic windfalls to a few speculators over safety of life, national security and important private sector companies whose customers would be most upended by their harmful interference.”
Dana Goward, president and director of the RNT Foundation, said, “The FCC treated this like a commercial communications issue instead of a decision about safety-of-life navigation. They didn’t even consider the overall cost to the public in lost lives and property.”
The Department of Defense, which is one of a number of federal agencies opposed to the Ligado order, has said it would ask the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to file a petition for reconsideration with the FCC. DoD also said it would pursue legislation to undo the order. NTIA declined to comment today on the filing of a petition. A number of members of Congress also have asked the FCC to revisit the order.
Ligado said in a statement today that it “fully expected those who are still complaining about the FCC’s bipartisan, unanimous approval to file reconsideration petitions, and we even expected them to make a big show about it. We are confident they will provide no information that the FCC has not already considered, and that the FCC’s Order will stand. What’s odd, however, is that they continue to push false rhetoric about our future business plans, which they know absolutely nothing about. We have taken immediate steps to move forward on our business—working through the standards process and with the wireless ecosystem—so Ligado can help advance U.S. 5G infrastructure as soon as possible.” —Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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