Inside GNSS Media & Research

NOV-DEC 2017

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18 Inside GNSS N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 A highly anticipated presenta- tion by Ligado Networks to the nation's leading satellite navigation experts took an unexpected turn when the company said it could not provide essential network information because it was looking to the government for technical direction and its business plans were still in flux. e firm had been invited to address the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Adviso- ry Board aer Ligado CEO Doug Smith sent a letter to board Vice Chairman Brad Parkinson suggesting that ques- tions about what the firm was proposing reflected "willful blindness" to the details available about the firm's plans. e firm also questioned why Iridium, a competi- tor and critic, had been invited to speak before the board. Smith had originally accepted the invitation to address the board 's fall meeting in Redondo Beach, California but, according to sources, the lineup was changed at the last minute. e presenta- tion was given instead by Valerie Green, Ligado's executive vice president and chief legal officer and a frequent repre- sentative in regulatory matters. ough members of the board com- plimented Green for her articulate pre- sentation they were disappointed at the lack of technical detail. "In our letter to you we asked certain specifics," said Parkinson. "In particular we asked for your operating configura- tion — not for those numbers which are subject to analysis and a heck of a lot of controversy, but instead the spacing, the density, the antenna types, the power lev- els and what propagation model you're using to say that you'd have demonstrat- ed the capability." e letter sent to Ligado also asked, Parkinson said, for information on the radius around the tower within which GPS receivers would be effected — an approach taken by the Department of Transportation (DoT) for its Adjacent Band Compatibility Assessment. "I still don't know what you're pro- posing," Parkinson told Green. "I see some numbers on a board but I do not see a statement on how you achieve those numbers because the probability is we are going to have a great argument over how the propagation works, how the multi-path works, how multiple towers work — and without that data we can't get around to saying yes to you folks." "e propagation model, that is the appropriate propagation model to be used to evaluate whether or not the pro- posal that we currently have actually will protect GPS — that's to be determined by the NTIA (National Telecommunica- tions and Information Administration) and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) who are the government agency experts on those sorts of things," responded Green, who said the board might have input into that determina- tion. "… I think that our sense is that the proper way to determine what is the right propagation model that should be applied to our proposal to see if it actu- ally will do what we say is that the gov- ernment should determine that." Also still to be determined, accord- ing to Green, is the number and distri- bution of the ground stations the firm will need to address its planned market. The firm hopes to provide Industrial Industry-of-ings connectivity to the manufacturing, natural resources, com- mercial transportation, supply manage- ment and utility industries. "One of the things that we are focused on," said Green, "is thinking about how to meet the needs of specific customers rather than just building and deploying a network and figuring out our theories on where it should go. We're interested in meeting the specific needs of these industries — and their particular needs are emerging. So exactly how many tow- ers we have will be determined by what our customers' needs are. But it will be substantially lower than the number of Ligado: Business and Network Plan Remain Unclear 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

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