Last week, three senators introduced the RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act on Capitol Hill. If signed into law, the legislation would hold communications company Ligado, which won FCC approval to go ahead with its 5G cellular network, financially accountable for private and public sector costs caused by GPS interference from their surface-based telecommunications system. The senators who introduced the bipartisan legislation are Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; and Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
Inhofe said, “We rely on [GPS] for so much of our day to day lives, which is why we need to take steps to protect not just the federal government from the harmful decision, but all state and local governments, private entities and consumers too. When Ligado’s effort to repurpose the spectrum causes interference in the infrastructure [of GPS-based] systems, as tests have shown it will, consumers and taxpayers shouldn’t bear the burden of updating countless systems. That cost should only be borne by the responsible party: Ligado.”
Before it was approved, general aviation advocates joined with commercial airline groups in protest against Ligado’s 5G wireless plan, which they agreed would disrupt navigation within the National Airspace System. The Department of Defense also came out strongly against the proposal, saying it could cost billions of dollars to update GPS equipment in military aircraft with new systems that would not be vulnerable to interference.