NTIA backs Pentagon on Ligado 5G license

5G  (Andrey Suslov/Shutterstock.com) 

The Commerce Department is asking the Federal Communications Commission to reverse a plan to permit a commercial 5G provider to set up shop in spectrum adjacent to the global positioning system.

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.

NTIA said it was acting at the request of the Defense Department and the Department of Transportation.

The FCC unanimously approved Ligado's bid for spectrum license in April, 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.

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, tele.com 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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