Defense Department Tries to Undo FCC Approval of Ligado Cell Network

The Department of Defense plans to appeal the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of a plan by Ligado to establish a cellular network that military officials believe will interfere with signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS).

SpaceNews reports:

“One avenue could be legislative action,” Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy told reporters May 6 following a lengthy Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where he testified along with other Pentagon officials.

Another channel to try to get the decision reversed would be to petition to the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said Deasy. The NTIA is an interagency organization that oversees the government’s spectrum policies.

The deadline for the Pentagon to file an appeal is May 29….

“We were surprised,” said Deasy. DoD for years was able to work through tough contentious issues with the FCC, he said, but on this one the process broke down.

In approving the application, FCC commissioners said restrictions placed on Ligado’s 5G cellular network would prevent interference with signals from the GPS satellite navigation system.

In the order approving Ligado’s application, the Commission included stringent conditions to ensure that incumbents would not experience harmful interference. For example, the Commission mandated that Ligado provide a significant (23 megahertz) guard-band using its own licensed spectrum to separate its terrestrial base station transmissions from neighboring operations in the Radionavigation-Satellite Service allocation. Moreover, Ligado is required to limit the power levels of its base stations to 9.8 dBW, a reduction of 99.3% from the power levels proposed in Ligado’s 2015 application.

The order also requires Ligado to protect adjacent band incumbents by reporting its base station locations and technical operating parameters to potentially affected government and industry stakeholders prior to commencing operations, continuously monitoring the transmit power of its base station sites, and complying with procedures and actions for responding to credible reports of interference, including rapid shutdown of operations where warranted.