Senate Panel Moves To Pause Ligado Cellular Network

 - June 15, 2020, 11:57 AM

As a cross-section of the civil aviation community continues to voice grave concerns about plans for Ligado Networks to move forward with a cellular network using the L-band spectrum, a U.S. Senate committee voiced its own concerns about the ramifications on military operations and moved to stall those plans.

In the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Senate Armed Services Committee included language calling the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to approve Ligado’s bandwidth request “misguided,” expressing concerns that it would interfere with GPS signals. “As our warfighters rely on these signals, the bill prohibits the use of DOD funds to comply with the FCC Order on Ligado until the Secretary of Defense submits an estimate of the costs associated with the resulting GPS interference, and directs the Secretary of Defense to contract with the National Academies of Science and Engineering for an independent technical review of the order to provide additional technical evaluation to review Ligado’s and DOD’s approaches to testing,” a summary of the NDAA states.

Committee chairman James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and ranking member Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) penned an op-ed in April saying, “Considering the risks, it’s clear the FCC commissioners made the wrong decision regarding Ligado’s plan…The vulnerabilities to our national and economic security are not worth the risk, particularly for a band of spectrum that isn’t necessary to secure a robust 5G network.”

The committee approved the bill on Thursday by a 25-2 vote, clearing the way for full Senate consideration. Various House Armed Forces subcommittees are anticipated to begin work on the lower chamber’s version of the FY2021 NDAA next week, with a full committee vote planned at the beginning of July.