AEA and industry coalition urge FCC to reconsider its approval of Ligado 5G Network

On June 3, the Aircraft Electronics Association and a group of 69 aviation organizations wrote to Marlene H. Dortch, secretary of the Federal Communications Commission, in support of a petition for stay filed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The petition to the FCC was filed May 22, and it opposed the FCC’s April 20 order of approval for Ligado Networks’ proposed high-speed broadband cellular network operating near frequency bands currently used by GPS and satellite communications networks. The petition noted a variety of concerns with the FCC’s April 20 order of approval for the nationwide 5G cellular service, including Ligado’s failure to sufficiently demonstrate its ability to not interfere with other frequencies. It also questioned the FCC’s approval without conducting a public review of the draft order. 

In part, the June 3 letter to Dortch supporting the petition stated: “The petition (as well as the numerous petitions for reconsideration filed against the Ligado order) demonstrates conclusively that the order presents serious and unresolved legal and factual questions, that grant of the stay will not harm others, and that a stay is necessary to prevent serious harm arising from harmful interference into mission-critical GPS devices and satellite communications. In short, the public interest strongly favors maintaining the status quo during the pendency of NTIA’s petition for reconsideration, and the Commission should grant the petition.”

The letter continued: “Ligado’s operations would affect too many federal GPS devices for repair or replacement to be feasible, and the conditions fail to account for the classified nature of the military GPS uses or the fact that many affected receivers are embedded into military hardware and weapons systems. Moreover, as the several petitions for reconsideration from the aviation sector also show, the conditions fail to provide sufficient protection to ensure safety of flight throughout critical aeronautical operations including near Ligado base stations, especially by medical emergency helicopters and other low-altitude flight operations.”

Ligado, formerly known as LightSquared, failed twice in recent years to win approval for deployment of its low-power 5G network.

To read the June 3 letter from industry groups to the FCC, click here.