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FCC Denies NTIA Ligado Stay Petition

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC has denied a petition to stay its decision to allow Ligado Networks to deploy its network.

The National Telecommunication's & Information Administration last May asked the FCC to stay and reconsider its decision to allow Ligado to use satellite spectrum adjacent to GPS for a terrestrial broadband network, but the FCC concluded Tuesday that there was no irreparable injury or likelihood of success on the merits of NTIA's challenge, two of the tests for granting a stay and reconsideration of its 2020 Ligado order.

Also Read: FCC Says Senate Ligado Attacks are Fear Mongering

The FCC's unanimous vote last May was conditioned on power limits and a "kill switch" if interference resulted, and based on FCC engineering assessments FCC chair Ajit Pai said at the time made the item good to go. 

But NTIA said that was hardly the case. Based on what it said were the FCC's "unworkable conditions while still uncertain whether GPS receivers critical to national security and public safety would experience remediable harmful interference," NITA said the FCC needed to stay the order and, essentially, go back to the condition drawing board. 

The FCC has decided to stick with the original plan.

“We must continue to move forward to ensure next-generation wireless services are available, and to do so, we must put this long-underused spectrum to its best use,” said Pai in a statement on the decision to deny the stay. “My colleagues and I unanimously adopted the order after more than a decade of delay across several Administrations. That order imposed stringent conditions in order to protect incumbent users, including GPS services and Pentagon operations that operate outside this band, and the technical evidence in our record continues to demonstrate that the FCC made the correct decision. I thank all of my colleagues for voting on this order with dispatch—on the same day it was circulated—and enabling the Commission to reaffirm that order, which is in the best interest of the American people.”

Also Read: Ligado Draws Major Fire in Armed Services Committee

Most of a hundred groups from the American Bus Association to Lockheed Martin to the National Cotton Council also asked the FCC to stay its Ligado decision earlier Tuesday, continuing to argue that it could interfere with GPS and threaten commercial and military aviation.

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.