GPS committee calls FCC Ligado order a “grave error”

WASHINGTON — A committee charged with giving the U.S. authorities recommendation on space-based navigation companies concluded that the Federal Communication Fee’s approval of Ligado’s 5G community is a “high-risk” choice that jeopardizes International Positioning System companies.

Throughout a July 1 assembly of the Nationwide House-Based mostly Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board, held on-line, members mentioned a report ready for the committee in regards to the April FCC choice to permit Ligado to function a 5G terrestrial community on a spectrum band neighboring that utilized by GPS.

“It abruptly modified the entire character of the radio spectrum close to the GPS main frequency,” mentioned Brad Parkinson, a vice-chair of the committee and chief architect of the GPS system throughout its growth within the Seventies, of the FCC’s approval of Ligado. “The FCC has made a grave error in authorizing the high-power terrestrial comm community on this spectrum proper subsequent to GPS.”

That spectrum, he famous, was initially supposed to be used by cellular satellite tv for pc methods, with a lot weaker alerts that these Ligado now plans to make use of within the band. “The repurposing of this spectrum could be very excessive threat, and brings just about no near-term advantages to america,” he mentioned.

The dearth of advantages, Parkinson mentioned, is due to an absence of 5G {hardware} or requirements designed to work on the L-band frequencies Ligado plans to make use of. Any advantages, he argued, could be outweighed by doubtless interference to GPS alerts from Ligado’s higher-power alerts, an evaluation of which he mentioned intimately in his presentation.

“The FCC order doesn’t have an excellent optimistic affect on the U.S.’ aggressive posture, and it could truly harm the GPS status due to the hurt it does,” he concluded.

The committee isn’t alone in its opposition to the FCC choice on Ligado. The FCC has confronted fierce criticism from the Protection Division and different authorities companies, in addition to some members of Congress, due to interference issues. The FCC, although, whose commissioners unanimously adopted the Ligado order, has continued to argue that the decreased energy ranges the corporate agreed to ought to forestall interference.

Committee members supported Parkinson’s report. Some famous that the Ligado system might lead to related interference for different space-based navigation methods, and that the FCC’s approval of Ligado might set a precedent for establishing related methods in different international locations.

The committee’s chairman, retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, learn into the report on the assembly a letter from Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the retired pilot greatest identified for piloting the crippled airliner within the “Miracle on the Hudson” accident in 2009. Sullenberger additionally criticized the FCC’s choice due to what he noticed as security impacts on aviation and different industries, in addition to nationwide safety.

“The FCC’s choice to approve Ligado Networks’ use of a portion of the L-band spectrum is ill-advised, and constitutes a dereliction of obligation on the FCC’s half,” Sullenberger wrote, calling the order “a harmful choice that should be reversed.”

The committee, whereas unanimously adopting Parkinson’s report, didn’t present a suggestion on the right way to reverse it. “Now we have no official standing on how the method strikes ahead,” Allen mentioned. He outlined a number of choices, from an FCC choice to rethink the order to authorized motion to congressional laws.

“Our goal is to make a public assertion on how we really feel about this,” Parkinson mentioned.

One committee member identified that the opposition to the order may make it unimaginable for Ligado to boost the cash wanted to construct out its community. “As a matter of statement, I can’t think about any investor wanting to take a position on this proposed 5G community after they understand there’s extraordinary legal responsibility to them,” mentioned James Geringer, a former governor of Wyoming.

One other pending situation mentioned on the committee is an replace to nationwide space-based place, navigation and timing coverage revealed in 2004. In a separate presentation, Curtis Hernandez, director of nationwide safety area coverage on the Nationwide House Council, mentioned a revised model of that coverage is nearing completion.

“The objective of the coverage is to keep up america’ management within the service, provision and accountable use of worldwide navigation satellite tv for pc methods, together with GPS and overseas methods,” he mentioned. He declined to enter particulars in regards to the up to date model because it has not but been accredited for launch.

A draft of the revised coverage was delivered for inside White Home evaluate earlier this yr, Hernandez mentioned, however consideration of it has been delayed due to the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The coverage, he acknowledged, “does complement and is in line with” an govt order revealed in February on strengthening nationwide resilience by means of accountable use of place, navigation and timing companies.

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