Inside GNSS Media & Research

JUL-AUG 2019

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16 Inside GNSS J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 L igado Networks is pushing spectrum regulators to make a decision on its request to allow satellite frequencies near the GPS band to also be used for terrestrial 5G networks. To support their appeal for a wavier to the license—and perhaps boost the likelihood of a sooner-than-later response—the company is casting its plan as part of an on-going 5G contro- versy that needs to be resolved before a crucial fall negotiation. Moreover, Ligado is insisting that a decision is long overdo under legal require- ments set out in Section 7 of the Communications Act. What does all this add up to? at's hard to say, at least in the near term. at urgent spectrum controversy is not about the mid-band frequencies Ligado is licensed to use. In fact it's not about mid-band frequencies at all. As for Section 7, even though it has been in place since 1983, it's so far been applied in an ad hoc manner—until now that is. Regulators are in the middle of craing rules to implement the section and it is at least possible that the process may delay a response to Ligado's request. Background Ligado is the successor company to LightSquared, which sought a license modification in 2010 to allow frequen- cies designated for satellite communi- cations to be used for a high-powered, nationwide terrestrial network to serve the surging broadband market. Tests later showed that the network's signals would overload the vast major- ity of GPS receivers. (A $2 billion lawsuit filed in December 2017 alleges Ligado Presses For Decision on Frequencies Neighboring GPS DEE ANN DIVIS Dee Ann Divis has covered GNSS and the aerospace industry since the early 1990s, writing for Jane's International Defense Review, the Los Angeles Times, AeroSpace Daily and other publications. She was the science and technology editor at United Press International for five years, leaving for a year to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow. WASHINGTON VIEW that the interference problem was known before LightSquared made its request but was fraudulently con- cealed from LightSquared's backers (see box, page 20). Aer tests were completed in 2011 the results went to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a Department of Commerce agency that coordinates government use of spectrum. In February 2012 the NTIA sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission say- ing the GPS interference that would be caused by LightSquared's net- work could not be mitigated and the FCC immediately put a hold on LightSquared's request; the firm filed for bankruptcy shortly thereaer. LightSquared soon sued the federal government and a number of GPS firms and interest groups. e firm emerged from bankruptcy in 2015, dismissed or settled its lawsuits and adopted a new name and a new plan created to help address the GPS inter- ference issues. More recently it's been proposing that its L-band spectrum would be a highly useful component of the new wireless networks being built to the emerging and very prom- ising 5G standards, which will ulti- mately enable wireless networks to handle far greater amounts of data at Ligado Networks' Spectrum Ligado's L-band spectrum is at 1526- 1536 MHz, 1545-1555 MHz (this 10 MHz band is now set aside as part of a guard band to protect GPS), 1627.5-1637.5 MHz, and 1646.5-1656.5 MHz. Should Ligado prevail regarding an upcoming spectrum auction, it would also be able to use 1670-1680 MHz. The firm leases 1670-1675 MHz. The auction would be for 1675-1680 MHz.

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