Image: Industry reps speaking against FCC decision at a press event. Office of Sen. James Inhofe

What’s New: The most recent chapter in the decades long story of the FCC licensing terrestrial broadcast on frequencies adjacent to space-based GPS signals. 

Why It’s Important; It seems certain that one group or another is going to suffer some kind of loss.

  • If Ligado is not able to proceed and use the spectrum as planned and allowed by the FCC, they will certainly experience some degree of financial loss. It will up to the courts to decide if that loss was the result of government misbehavior, or just part of our economic system where entrepreneurs and investors take risks and sometimes lose.
  • If Ligado is able to proceed, the government and many GPS users will be negatively impacted. Which users and how bad the impact is a matter of contention. Yet the FCC’s decision tacitly admitted it, and a National Academy of Sciences study confirmed it.

What Else to Know:

  • The FCC received eight Petitions for Reconsideration (one of which was from the RNT Foundation) after its 2020 decision allowing Ligado’s use of the spectrum. The FCC has yet to respond to any.
  • We proposed the FCC give Ligado a different frequency to use instead of the one that will cause interference with GPS reception. We understand that idea was fairly well received in many quarters, though nothing seems to have been done.
  • Ligado is a business. This suit seems the next logical step from a business point of view.
  • We have observed that while entrepreneurs and investors often boast how brave they are for taking risks and should be rewarded, they are also often quick to claim foul if their risk taking doesn’t work out. It seems to us that losing is as much a part of “risk” as winning…


Ligado Sues U.S. Seeking $39 Billion in Spectrum Fight

Debt-laden satellite company alleges Pentagon improperly denied its use of spectrum for 5G networks

Long-struggling satellite company Ligado Networks sued the U.S. over spectrum rights it has been unable to use, alleging that the Defense Department and Commerce Department blocked its business plans through a “highly orchestrated public disinformation campaign.”

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeks to recover as much as $39 billion as compensation for property that Ligado says was wrongly denied. The complaint comes as the company stares down about $4 billion of November bond payments.

READ MORE   Note – Many WSJ articles are behind a paywall. While the WSJ broke this story, it has also been covered by other media outlets.