Commerce Secretary Joins Fight Against GPS Jamming


Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has pledged her support to prevent Ligado Networks from occupying radio spectrum that more than a dozen government departments say could jam delicate GPS and other space-based signals. As we reported, the FCC last April approved Ligado’s bid to use a narrow slice of spectrum adjacent to the space bands for high-capacity 5G cellular networks. The cell signals are millions of times more powerful than the GPS signals and the industries that depend on the timing messages from space are unanimous in their opposition.

Sen. Jim Inhofe is leading the political charge against the FCC decision and he told the Senate Wednesday that the powerful Department of Commerce is on board. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is part of the Department of Commerce and has already stated its opposition to the FCC order. Raimondo told Inhofe her department is also opposed. “I write to assure you that there has been no change in the Department of Commerce’s or NTIA’s opposition to the FCC’s Ligado Order,” Raimondo told Inhofe. “NTIA will continue its efforts on behalf of the Executive Branch to oppose it.” Inhofe said Raimondo’s letter “is huge” and shows the bipartisan opposition to the Ligado proposal.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. There is a lot of heat but not much light in this controversy. It would be good for AVweb to do a deep dive into the issues and try and separate the wheat from the chaff. Most of us would be strongly against anything that messes with GPS for either air or ground based operations. So what is the truth regarding interference?

  2. The basic problem is that a gazillion inexpensive GPS receivers with relaxed adjacent-frequency rejection have been and continue to be designed, manufactured and placed in service in an entire universe of applications & products. The designs of these receivers were based on the assumption the internationally agreed upon guard-bands which preclude uses such as the proposed terrestrial cell networks adjacent to the GPS frequencies would be maintained.

    The only way to definitively find out how much of a problem scattering the country with these (relatively) high power transmitters so close to the GPS band would be is to actually do it. If it only screws a few politically unimportant groups all is well. If instead it leads to major and widespread problems with consumer devices that millions of voters use daily than it’s run for cover time for all the politicians who let it happen. Me? I wouldn’t do it, but money talks.