Ligado, the cellular service provider whose proposed 5G network may interfere with GPS transmissions, is allegedly on the ropes financially. Ligado has until the end of this week to respond to a lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court by Inmarsat, the British satellite communications company that owns the radio spectrum that Ligado intends to use for its network. The suit was first reported by Forbes. Inmarsat says Ligado has missed a $395 million payment due Jan. 1 to maintain a “cooperation agreement” that will allow it to use a slice of radio spectrum Inmarsat controls.
In the suit, filed on Dec. 15, Inmarsat claims that “Ligado has failed to get its business off the ground, and has stated unequivocally that it cannot and will not pay Inmarsat the amounts due on January 1, 2023.” Inmarsat also says Ligado has said it will file for bankruptcy if it doesn’t get an extension on the payment. The $395 million is in addition to a $60 million-a-year payment plan over the next 85 years, says Inmarsat.
The suit says Ligado has recently alleged that Inmarsat has failed to uphold its end of the deal by refusing to harden its own equipment against potential interference from the 5G signals. Inmarsat rejects that claim, saying that requirement was waived in an earlier amendment to the cooperation agreement. Inmarsat is asking for the court to award it the money it’s owed, restore Inmarsat’s control of the radio spectrum and kick out Ligado’s claims about the interference agreement.
In 2020, the FCC approved Ligado’s use of radio spectrum next to frequencies used by satellites to transmit GPS timing signals to receivers on Earth. The decision prompted protests from GPS-dependent industries concerned the much more powerful cellular signals would jam GPS. As we reported earlier, a study by the National Academies of Sciences found that most commercial GPS equipment is safe from interference but some of the gear used by the U.S. military could be significantly affected by the 5G signals.