The NBAA has joined with 90 trade associations and agricultural aviation groups in urging the FCC to revoke its approval of the high-speed broadband cellular network that has been shown to interfere with GPS and satellite communications networks.
The ruling, known as the Ligado Order, came in on April 20, 2020. It announced that the FCC had approved with conditions the Ligado application to deploy a “low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the L-Band that will support 5G and Internet of Things and services. This ruling swept in when global aviation traffic had declined in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The opponents to this controversial ruling have maintained that the FCC made the decision despite a lack of evidence on the potential interference from the L-band signals near the frequencies used by GPS.
“We greatly appreciate your administration’s opposition to the Ligado Order and commitment that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), on behalf of the executive branch, will continue to actively pursue its petition for reconsideration of the order,” the industry letter said.
The call to vacate the decision follows an independent technical review that was mandated by bipartisan action in Congress, started by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. This study confirmed that the Ligado network would notably “cause harmful interference at significant ranges to incumbent L-band services across a broad range of deployment scenarios.”
The letter sent to President Biden outlined the concerns over the FCC’s decision, sent by organizations like the NBAA, Helicopter Association International, American Road & Transportation Builders Association and countless other organizations from transportation to agriculture, whose work would be impacted by the interference.
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen urged the President to take action and revoke the Ligado decision.
“GPS forms the backbone of our National Aviation System, which is the safest in the world,” Bolen said. “With numerous studies now reaffirming our industries’ concerns about dangerous interference to these vital systems from the Ligado network, it’s long past time for the FCC to do the right thing and rethink its ill-considered decision.”
The expansion of 5G is imminent and agencies like the FAA have been working extensively with companies to ensure that the expansion does not impact the safety of the national airspace. The decision made at a time when the sky was clearer than normal, may have a serious impact on aviation, agriculture and other modes of transportation. The NBAA and other impacted organizations call for a quick response and the removal of the ruling.
“The unequivocal conclusions of the NAS Report constitute the exact type of previously unavailable information that the FCC’s rules dictate must be addressed on reconsideration,” the letter said.
“We therefore urge you to work with the FCC to address the harm from Ligado’s proposed terrestrial network to critical GPS, satellite communications, and weather forecasting services by staying the Order, addressing the previously unavailable information contained in the NAS Report, and resolving the pending petitions for reconsideration.”