Ligado Networks’ terrestrial 5G program will continue its development despite aviation-industry pushback concerned with the potential for GPS interference. Earlier this year, aviation groups sent a request to the FCC to reconsider its prior approval, but the FCC last week denied “a request to stay its unanimous decision,” authorizing the program to move forward.
According to the FCC, “A petition filed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) last May sought to delay the proceeding, but the Commission ruled today that NTIA did not satisfy the requirements of a stay, in particular, the demonstration of an irreparable injury or a likelihood of success.”
“We must continue to move forward to ensure next-generation wireless services are available, and to do so, we must put this long-underused spectrum to its best use,” said Ajit Pai, then FCC Chairman. “My colleagues and I unanimously adopted the order after more than a decade of delay across several Administrations. That order imposed stringent conditions in order to protect incumbent users, including GPS services and Pentagon operations that operate outside this band, and the technical evidence in our record continues to demonstrate that the FCC made the correct decision.”
While the FCC has ruled in favor of Ligado at this point, it might not be the last word. Pai stepped down from the head of FCC, replaced by Jessica Rosenworcel, who is currently the acting chairwoman of the FCC. She and commissioner Geoffrey Starks had voted in favor of a stay.
In addition, FCC commissioner Nathan Simington suggested that Ligado’s efforts weren’t guaranteed success, saying, “I do not share my colleague’s determination that Ligado will certainly succeed on the merits with respect to NTIA’s petition for reconsideration. In my view, such certainty is premature because interference criteria relating to device performance have not been conclusively addressed. As there is an opportunity for further testing, including performance-based testing, there remains the possibility of a showing that will greatly bolster the merits of NTIA’s petition for reconsideration. Such a showing would also allow the Commission to better evaluate the entire record in this proceeding, including the various other petitions for reconsideration that were filed. It is by doing so that we will adduce the best possible record in the service of disinterested policymaking in the public good.”