Advanced Television

Ligado facing US hurdles

April 29, 2022

Ligado Networks, formerly known as LightSquared and SkyTerra Communications, is a satellite communications business and operates the SkyTerra-1 satellite. Inmarsat is very much involved insofar that it is owed cash by Ligado for satellite capacity leases.

Ligado has had a very chequered history, but now faces a series of heavyweight objections to its plans from rivals who have involved the US Congress.

The company wants to use its existing L-band terrestrial rights and switching on part of its network on September 30th in Virginia with 5G signals. Ligado’s HQ is in Reston, Virginia. Nokia is developing 5G base stations for Ligado.

Objectors say Ligado’s signals will interfere with – amongst other problems – GPS signals. Satellite operators Iridium, PlanetiQ and GeoOptics joined a group of 90 other objectors seeking to reverse an FCC licence for Ligado some two years ago.

The essence for the complaints is that Congress required an independent technical review to Ligado’s plans and to assess the potential for interference in particular from the US Department of Defense.

Ligado says it has reached out to various federal agencies for data on potential harmful interference and had “not received information about a single device that’s needed to be repaired or replaced due to [its] proposed operations.”

Ligado’s past life is not without problems. As the former LightSquared it struck a “cooperation agreement” with Inmarsat (back in 2007) to use some of Inmarsat’s spectrum over the US. Ligado went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012, emerging in 2015 and adopting its new name in 2015.

It has financial backing from Centrebrifge Partners, Fortress Investment Group and JPMorgan Chase.

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