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GPS Protection Bill Introduced to Senate

June 24, 2021 — U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced the RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act on Wednesday, which, if passed, would force communications company Ligado to pay the private and public sector costs associated with any GPS interference from their terrestrial-based 5G telecommunications.

“GPS and satellite communications don’t only impact our military — we rely on it for so much of our day to day lives, which is why we need to take steps to protect not just the federal government from the harmful decision, but all state and local governments, private entities and consumers too,” Inhofe said. “Our nation has an integrated public and private sector infrastructure to support the reliability and use of GPS and satellite communications to navigate our cars and boats for recreation and commerce, to plow our fields, to manage equipment for transportation construction projects, to track our exercise and to predict weather patterns – the list goes on. When Ligado’s effort to repurpose spectrum causes interference in the infrastructure of those systems, as tests have shown it will, consumers and taxpayers shouldn’t bear the burden of updating countless systems. That cost should only be borne by the responsible party: Ligado.”

Commercial and general aviation interests were both opposed to Ligado’s 5G wireless plan that was ultimately approved by the Federal Communications Commission, as it could cause interference with GPS signals increasingly relied upon for air traffic separation and aircraft navigation, including precision and nonprecision instrument approaches. The Department of Defense also came out strongly against the proposal as a technology that could cost billions of dollars to replace GPS equipment in military aircraft.

EAA remains adamantly opposed to inappropriate frequency spectrum allocation and use that could degrade the accuracy or integrity of GPS signals, radar altimeters, and other systems that have become integral to the utility and safety of the national airspace system.

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