DOD Sees Danger in FCC’s Ligado 5G
May 11, 2020
Federal Communications Commission's granting of a license to a private
company threatens to undermine the Defense Department's Global
Positioning System capabilities, as well as that of the civilian sector,
which also relies on GPS, DOD officials told Congress.
GPS is used for such things as precision timing and navigation for
aircraft, cellphone coverage, precision weapons targeting and much more.
DOD Chief Information Officer Dana S. Deasy; Undersecretary of Defense
for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin; Space Force Gen. John
W. "Jay" Raymond, chief of space operations and commander of U.S. Space
Command; and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen spoke at a Senate
Armed Services Committee hearing on DOD spectrum policy and the impact
of the FCC's Ligado Networks decision on national security.
Ligado is a U.S. satellite
communications company formerly known as LightSquared.
Griffin noted that GPS was designed and developed by DOD, but is now
used commercially for first responders, civil aircraft and commercial
shipping, among many other vital usages.
"It's all at risk now," he said, and he explained why.
GPS relies on picking up very weak signals transmitted from GPS
satellites to ground-based receivers. Ligado's loud signals from a
spectrum would effectively drown out those weak signals, he said. This
would force the department to redesign and rebuild its infrastructure,
which would cost billions of dollars and would take decades to
accomplish, he added.
Allies and partners, seeing the
damage that was done to U.S. GPS, would then possibly turn to
competitors Russia and China for their systems, Griffin said.
Deasy said DOD fully supports the United States being a leader of 5G
technology, but that Ligado's actions, if allowed, would not support
that effort. DOD is preparing to do a number of experiments to get the
nation to 5G, he added.
and Transportation Department studies have shown that Ligado's ambitions
will be harmful to military and civilian GPS receivers and that there's
no way to protect millions of mobile GPS devices that would be
disrupted, he said.
"GPS must always be a reliable service, particularly for first
responders," Deasy said.
Raymond said satellite signals have
to arrive in a noise pristine environment. "We must preserve this
spectrum. We should not cede our operational advantage to Russia and
GPS receivers enable warriors to shoot, move and communicate with great
precision at great distances, the general told the Senate panel.