© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is located at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C.
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 late Tuesday to reject an offer by US government agencies to freeze their decision to allow Ligado Networks to provide nationwide mobile broadband.
In May, the US Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration filed an application with the FCC on behalf of law enforcement agencies, including defense and transportation departments, arguing that the commission's approval will cause "irreparable harm to federal government users" of global location systems would (GEOGRAPHICAL POSITIONING SYSTEM).
The FCC said Ligado's deployment plans are ongoing and talks are ongoing with US authorities about the network's potential impact on government GPS systems. The decision was made a day before President-elect Joe Biden took office and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stepped down.
"We need to keep moving forward to ensure that next-generation wireless services are available, and to do that we need to make the most of this long-idle spectrum," Pai said in a statement. "The technical evidence in our records continues to show that the FCC made the right decision."
The Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the International Air Transport Association, and Airlines for America, Iridium Communications (NASDAQ 🙂 and Lockheed Martin (NYSE 🙂 also filed petitions last year asking the FCC to reconsider.
Ligado did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the FCC denial of the residence request, it was indicated that Ligado had to give the GPS manufacturers a six-month deadline before activation, negotiate network partnership agreements and secure $ 800 million in the capital markets to finance the expansion of the infrastructure.
FCC commissioner Nathan Simington, who voted to refuse the stay, said the agency had not assessed the merits of the re-examination request. He noted that Congress required a final technical review of the Ligado Spectrum Order by the National Academies of Science.
"There is plenty of time to compile a coherent scientific record of generally accepted standards and thus conduct disinterested, strict public policies," said Simington.
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