SPRINGFIELD, Va.– Taking from one and giving to another has consequences. A bill introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) aims to right the wrongs of an April 2020 FCC decision to permit Ligado Networks LLC to use radio spectrum in a way that would cause interference with GPS, and force the company to pay for costs incurred by businesses and consumers to ensure continued GPS reliability.
Ligado’s slice of licensed “L-Band” radio spectrum, designated for space-based navigation and communications, is located near lower frequency bands used by hundreds of millions of GPS units in public safety, health, government, transportation, military, commerce, agriculture and more. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and other coalition members believe that, as the Ligado network is rolled out, instances of signal interference will increase. Beyond the issue of safety, failure of the GPS system could potentially cost the national economy approximately $1 billion a day or more, according to a study commissioned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Passage of the “RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act” would fix the issue of fairness of who should pay to ensure GPS remains reliable. While the 2020 FCC decision included language to ensure “Ligado shall expeditiously repair or replace any U.S. government GPS devices that experience or are likely to experience harmful interference from Ligado’s operations,” nongovernment users were left holding the bag. BoatUS also notes FCC’s decision didn’t provide an adequate description of the potential costs to federal agencies whose budgets are ultimately supported by American taxpayers.
The RETAIN (Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary) act acknowledges the harm to GPS and satellite communications end users caused by the FCC decision and ensures the burden of costs to all users sits squarely where it belongs — on Ligado — and not on boat owners, aviators, farmers, weather forecasters, transportation companies and many other users.
Joining BoatUS in support of RETAIN are nearly 100 industry and public/private associations including the Air Line Pilots Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, International Air Transport Association, American Trucking Associations, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Weather Association, U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, National Defense Industrial Association and others.
“It is critical that recreational boaters have a reliable GPS system to safely navigate,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “Ligado must be held accountable for any costs to maintain continued reliability of the GPS system for all users. We thank Senator Inhofe for working on behalf of recreational boat owners and many other users who rely on GPS every day.”
BoatUS urges boaters and anyone who relies on GPS to ensure their state’s senators sign on to the RETAIN legislation as cosponsors. Easily send a message by clicking here.
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has been looking after the interests of recreational boaters since its founding by Richard Schwartz in 1966. We are the nation’s largest organization of recreational boat owners, with over half a million dues-paying Members.