FCC Archives - Inside GNSS
August 8, 2019

FCC Weighs Broad Changes in Ultra-Wideband Rules

GPS Innovation Alliance Asks for More Time to Respond

Spectrum regulators are considering a request to modify tough restrictions on devices and systems relying on Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, an approach to using frequencies that skips across wide swaths of spectrum instead of confining its signals to distinct, narrower bands.

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By Dee Ann Divis
March 14, 2019

Lawmakers Launch New GPS Caucus

There are congressional caucuses dedicated to building support for everything from auto care and addiction treatment to chickens and Vietnam. Some caucuses become powerful voting blocks of lawmakers — the House Freedom Caucus played a role in the 2015 resignation of Speaker John Boehner. Others exercise influence by educating congressmembers and their staff about issues impacting their cause and quietly heading off ill-conceived proposals before they get too far along.

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By Dee Ann Divis
November 15, 2018

FCC Poised to Approve Broad Use of Galileo in U.S.

UPDATED: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Nov. 15 unanimously approved waivers allowing the use of the Galileo E1 and E5 signals for non-federal purposes in the U.S. and denied the E6 signal waiver request. Approving the E6 waiver “could constrain our future spectrum management for non-Federal operations in the U.S.” the FCC wrote in the draft order document released ahead of the meeting.

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By Dee Ann Divis
November 7, 2018

Iridium Urges the FCC to Rescind Ground-Network Rule Ligado Relies On

Iridium is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to rescind rules essential to Ligado Networks’ proposal to use its satellite frequencies to support a ground-based network for applications like 5G wireless service and connectivity for driverless cars and drones.

The Ancillary Terrestrial Components (ATC) rules were initially adopted in 2003 then changed in 2005 and again over the years to permit satellite firms to build a limited number of ground stations or ATCs to enable them to reach customers indoors or in difficult-to-serve environments like large city centers.

“The ATC concept was pretty straight forward — to enhance the business model and expand the reach of satellite systems (think urban canyons), in certain spectrum bands,” wrote former FCC commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, who is regulatory counsel to Iridium at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, in a November 6 opinion piece on insidesources.com “The FCC voted to allow satellite companies to integrate an ancillary terrestrial component into their service. In other words, satellite licensees would be permitted to design a service offering that would combine satellite capabilities with terrestrial wireless service accessed on a single handheld device. Spectrum zoned for satellite service would now be available for terrestrial use as a supplement to the satellite coverage.”

Ligado’s ATC-based proposal has gone through several iterations but has consistently raised alarms in the GPS community after tests showed such a network would interfere with the operation of GPS receivers.

The FCC is now examining the rules as part of a larger effort to evaluate and update rules pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The Act addresses regulations that “have, or might have, a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

The Commission is evaluating a long list of rules adopted in 2005 and 2006. In weighing whether to continue, change or rescind a particular rule the FCC is to weigh:

(a) The continued need for the rule;

(b) The nature of complaints or comments from the public concerning the rule;

(c) The complexity of the rule;

(d) The extent to which the rule overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other federal rules and, to the extent feasible, with state and local governmental rules; and

(e) The length of time since the rule has been evaluated or the degree to which technology, economic conditions, or other factors have changed in the area affected by the rule.

“When it comes to the world of wireless spectrum, the FCC is charged with managing this scarce resource and the agency is constantly searching for new ideas to maximize the benefits and value of our limited airwaves,” said Abernathy, who served as a Commissioner and was part of the ATC decision-making. “…As policymakers, sometimes great enthusiasm for a new approach is met with the reality that an idea is too complex or the economics just don’t work. When that happens and the marketplace speaks, regulators need to listen.”

The ATC rules were adopted to supplement terrestrial service to augment the reach of satellite networks,” wrote Iridium. They have “resulted in a total of exactly zero ATC deployments, multiple bankruptcies, costly litigation, and countless waivers and rulemaking requests producing substantial work for the FCC and other federal government stakeholders with no countervailing benefits.

“Sometimes regulations are simply a mistake,” continued Iridium. “When this occurs, the FCC should correct the mistake. While well-intentioned, the ATC rules have not worked, and cannot work as envisioned. They should be rescinded.”

Inside GNSS reached out to Ligado for comment but did not receive a response as of press time. The proposal can be found in FCC Dockets 18-31 and 16-131. The dockets can be found by visiting the search page here .



By Dee Ann Divis

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Opposes Ligado Frequency Plan

A proposed frequency change that could create interference with GPS receivers has picked up a new and powerful group of opponents. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents the country’s largest automobile makers and 70 percent of all the car and light truck sales in the U.S., filed a letter opposing a request by Ligado Networks (formerly LightSquared) to allow satellite-only frequencies near the satellite navigation band to also be used for terrestrial broadband services.

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By Dee Ann Divis
August 29, 2018

Ligado Fight Comes Down to Choice of Interference Standard

There was a flurry of filings July 9 just as the window closed for public comment on Ligado Networks’ proposal to repurpose satellite frequencies for a terrestrial network — a plan with the potential to interfere with GPS receivers.

The comments emerged as speculation swirled around a July 3 bid by EchoStar for Ligado spectrum supplier INMARSAT. The bid was rejected and, as of press time, EchoStar will have to wait six months before trying again.

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By Dee Ann Divis
June 18, 2018

Letter About Ligado in Limbo

The issue at hand is whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should allow a change in the use of frequencies close to those used by GPS. Virginia-based Ligado Networks wants to repurpose its satellite frequencies to also support ground-based telecom services. Testing done several years ago and expanded upon more recently has shown such a system could seriously interfere with GPS receivers.

Some three months after a meeting of the key federal agencies using and running the GPS program, they have yet to release a letter stating their recommendation on whether to allow the development of a potentially interfering telecommunication service.

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By Dee Ann Divis
May 10, 2018

David Grossman joins GPS Innovation Alliance as Executive Director

The GPS Innovation Alliance has announced the appointment of J. “David” Grossman as executive director. Grossman will lead the Alliance as it further builds its organizational presence in Washington on behalf of its members and the GNSS industry as a whole.

“David’s appointment ushers in an exciting new chapter for our organization” said Jim Kirkland, president of the GPS Innovation Alliance and senior vice president and general counsel of Trimble Inc. 

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By Inside GNSS