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Industry Groups Launch Coalition Against FCC Ligado Order

By Rachel Jewett | June 25, 2020

      An artistic rendering of GPS satellites in orbit. Photo Credit: NOAA

      Five industry groups have joined protests against the FCC’s approval of Ligado’s L-band network plan in April. The group, Keep GPS Working Coalition was founded by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.).

      In a Tuesday announcement, the group said it aims to protect GPS end users like farmers, ranchers, pilots, boat owners, and surveyors “who will be forced to suffer interference to their GPS devices or to pay to replace them.” 

      Ligado’s plan to deploy a low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the L-band to support 5G and Internet of Things services (IoT), has been opposed by a wide range of stakeholders including the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the GPS Innovation Alliance (GPSIA), Iridium and Lockheed Martin.  

      The coalition plans to endorse the Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary for GPS and Satellite Communications Act, which is expected to be introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Jack Reed, D-R.I.

      “In issuing the Ligado order, the FCC threw millions of Americans who depend on GPS in their everyday lives under the bus with undue haste and inadequate consideration,” said Dale Leibach, the group’s spokesperson. “Alarmingly, the commission also ignored concerns raised by Congress and federal agencies — the experts that rely on GPS to protect our national and economic security … DOD has even argued before Congress that the interference from Ligado’s network would put missions and troops at risk. It is a highly questionable decision that benefits a single company and its Wall Street investors at the expense of national and economic security.”