satellite network (Andrey VP/

NTIA weighs in against Ligado 5G license

The Commerce Department is lining up with Defense Department and the Department of Transportation opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to permit a commercial 5G provider to set up shop in spectrum adjacent to that used by government for GPS.

On May 22, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commerce subcomponent that manages civilian federal spectrum, formally asked the FCC to rescind license approval to Ligado its planned network would "cause irreparable harm to federal government users" of GPS.

It also called on the FCC to evaluate “this new harmful interference metric under more scientific rigor before applying it to a large number of GPS devices relied upon for national security and public safety, including civil GPS receivers owned and operated by emergency first responders and others for a variety of critical functions.”

In April, the FCC unanimously approved Ligado's bid for spectrum license, provided the company moved to protect GPS spectrum with spectrum band buffers and low-powered terrestrial network base stations.

NTIA's May 22 requests are the latest salvo in the battle over the use of L Band spectrum Ligado wants to use to build a national 5G/internet-of-things network. DOD and the DOT have ramped up their objections to the plans and license in the last few weeks because they say the company's spectrum is too close to crucial GPS bands used by the military and needed for future transportation applications.

In a May 6 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, DOD officials said Ligado's terrestrial-based network would overwhelm space-based GPS transmissions even with guard bands and low power base stations in place.

NTIA's latest filings again assert the planned network will substantially interfere with GPS.

Ligado countered in a statement that the NTIA's filings were "a rehash of arguments put before the FCC over two years ago" and "contained no new information or technical data" to support an FCC reversal of its unanimous, bipartisan vote to grant it a license.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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