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Ligado Networks and Topcon Reach Spectrum Use Agreement

Ligado has reached co-existence agreements with five GNSS manufacturers

December 7, 2016

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Ligado Networks has announced a cooperation agreement with Topcon Positioning Systems that removes another barrier to the wireless broadband company's proposed 5G network rollout.

According to a November 29 letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agreement calls for future coordination prior to network development and for any mitigation efforts. Topcon also urged the FCC to grant Ligado's modification applications to enable ground-based services on its mid-band spectrum.

"After months of testing, analysis and discussion, we are pleased to have reached a resolution with Topcon that provides a path forward for Ligado and ensures protection of all Topcon GNSS devices," said Doug Smith, Ligado Networks' president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "This agreement underscores our ongoing commitment to working collaboratively with companies to find solutions and is further evidence that our planned satellite and ground-based network can peacefully co-exist alongside our spectrum neighbors."

Topcon has been working with Ligado for several months to evaluate the potential impact of the proposed license modification, said Ivan Di Federico, Topcon's chief strategy officer. "We've agreed that the parties will cooperate in the future if their proposal impacts Topcon's devices in any way. Our agreement is a positive step forward for both companies, and we look forward to coordinating with Ligado over the coming years as it deploys a ground network," he said.

Ligado Networks, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2015 and changed its name from LightSquared in February, has settled interference disputes with Deere, Garmin, Trimble, and NovAtel. The company is building a satellite-terrestrial network to provide connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The GNSS community resisted LightSquared's first efforts to roll out a high-powered terrestrial wireless broadband system in radio frequency spectrum adjacent to many geolocation services. The agreement with Topcon is a step forward to resolve differences among GNSS device manufacturers, Ligado said.

"We are excited about ongoing opportunities to collaborate with Topcon, including exploring opportunities to build networks that enhance accuracy and reliability of positioning services," Smith said. "This type of advanced network, the first of its kind in North America, would further position the U.S. as a leader in wireless technology and infrastructure by delivering unprecedented performance and enabling the emerging 5G and Internet of Things markets.

As Inside GNSS reported earlier this year, Ligado's drive to find common ground with GNSS companies may be because of the recent U.S. presidential election, said Tim Farrar, a technology consultant with TMF Associates who has followed the Ligado-LightSquared debate.

"The reason that [Ligado] is pushing for an answer by the end of the year is that they don't know what the next administration will bring," Farrar told Inside GNSS. "It will be a different bunch of people making a decision. It will inevitably delay things while all those people get up to speed, and it may mean that they won't have the same political clout. Things will be different. So, having a ruling in the dying days of this administration, as people are about to leave the building, would be like [Ligado's] ideal outcome."

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