Airlines, Satellite Companies, Weather Forecasters Petition FCC to Dismiss Ligado Application

FCC chair Ajit Pai still has a fight on his hands when it comes to his proposal to allow Ligado to launch its long-sought terrestrial broadband network using L-band satellite spectrum. 

Airline interests including plane builders, pilots, air transport companies and airlines including Jet Blue, Delta, and Southwest have petitioned the FCC to dismiss the Ligado application, which the chairman has proposed to approve and circulated an order to that effect for a vote by the other commissioners. 

Related: AG Barr Praises FCC Ligado Item as Helping Beat China to 5G 

In the petition to dismiss, a copy of which was obtained by Multichannel News, they said: "For nearly a decade Ligado Networks LLC (“Ligado”) has subjected the FCC to a steady barrage of waiver requests, license modification applications, amendments to those applications, and ex parte presentations, all attempting to abandon its dwindling satellite business in order to gain the Commission’s blessing for its constantly evolving terrestrial wireless business plans that seem more attuned to political expedience than a response to actual market needs."

Groups comprising aviation, satellite and weather information companies, along with government agencies, have pushed back on Ligado's plan, citing potential interference to GPS in adjacent bands and saying the company has never sufficiently addressed those interference concerns. 

They said that rather than approve the application after almost a decade, the FCC should dismiss it and move on. 

"The Commission should put an end to this constant, fruitless distraction, and allow the parties to refocus their efforts on operating their businesses, as well as the affected federal agencies missions, and productively supporting the public interest. 

In a separate petition, Accuweather. the American Meteorological Society and others in that space also petitioned for dismissal of Ligado's "oft-evolving proposal." 

Pointing to recent killer tornadoes in the Southeast, they told the FCC: "The public and numerous industries rely on timely and accurate predictions to make criticaldecisions about life and property. Any degradation to the data used for these forecasts reduces the ability for people and industries to stay safe in severe weather."

Pai has said that with the conditions the FCC is imposing on Ligado, and based on FCC engineering reviews, the service can launch without harmful interference given the power levels involved.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.