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ASA Supports RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act

ASA strongly endorses the Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary for GPS and Satellite Communications Act or the “RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act” introduced by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK). This legislation would ensure that the costs incurred by the public sector, businesses and consumers as a result of the FCC’s decision to permit Ligado Networks LLC to use spectrum in a way that would cause interference to GPS and satellite communications would be covered by Ligado, the licensee benefiting from the decision. The FCC’s Ligado Order already recognizes the potential for interference to GPS receivers and requires that, “Ligado shall expeditiously repair or replace as needed any U.S. Government GPS devices that experience or are likely to experience harmful interference from Ligado’s operations.” However, the Order failed to go far enough in three ways.

First, it did not provide an adequate description of the potential costs to federal agencies and thus the American taxpayer. Federal agencies are responsible for ensuring reliable GPS and satellite communications necessary for all manner of safety of life operations. Second, while recognizing the potential costs associated with interference to Federal agency owned devices, the FCC order inexplicably fails to require that Ligado also bear the costs of interference to other government and private owners of devices and applications that may be disrupted by Ligado’s proposed operations. Third, the Order improperly applies interference limits that are fundamentally insufficient to protect critical satellite communications and navigation signals from unknown millions of Ligado devices operating over wide geographic areas.

Ninety-nine percent of the GPS receivers are used in critical applications by non-Federal government users, businesses and consumers, and satellite communications networks. The reliability of GPS and satellite communications is necessary for safety of life operations, national security and economic activity including the operation of construction and mining equipment. The RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act acknowledges the harm to GPS and satellite communications end users caused by the Ligado order and ensures the burden of cost sits squarely where it belongs on Ligado, rather than our construction companies.