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Ligado, Rakuten Sign 5G MOU

A 5G graphic
(Image credit: Dong Wenjie via Getty Images)

Ligado and Rakuten Mobile are teaming up on a private mobile 5G network.

The companies said Friday (Feb.12) that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to that effect.

Also Read: FCC Denies Ligado Stay Petition

Essentially the announcement was that they would start this quarter to work with venders and other partners to establish "a timeline" for rolling out a network blueprint and trials, with Ligado leveraging the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

They anticipate they will both advance the private network model--connecting multiple locations for enterprise customers--and accelerate the commercial use of the L-Band spectrum. "Ligado’s approach to private networks – which runs on dedicated mid-band spectrum and offers both satellite and terrestrial connectivity – will give customers the scale of a public network and the security and customization of a private one," the company said.

Despite pushback from GPS entities and some federal agencies, the FCC voted unanimously back in April 2020 voted to approve Ligado's application to deploy a low-power terrestrial 5G network in the L-Band satellite spectrum

GPS companies and users had pushed back on the application, saying they could face interference to critical services, but FCC engineers said that harmful interference could be avoided, including by requiring a guard band of spectrum between Ligado and adjacent-band GPS and a 99% reduction in power levels from Ligado's 2015 application.

Eventually Congress stepped in to put guard rails around the decision, including an independent investigation of any potential interference and a prohibition on the Defense Department contracting with any company that interferes with GPS.