On January 19, 2021, the FCC released an Order denying NTIA’s Petition to Stay the FCC’s April 22, 2020 Order and Authorization, which permitted Ligado Networks, LLC (“Ligado”) to deploy a low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the 1526-1536 MHz, 1627.5-1637.5 MHz, and 1646.5-1656.5 MHz portions of its license in the mobile satellite services (“MSS”) L-band allocation. NTIA’s petition alleged that a stay was appropriate pending the FCC’s decision of NTIA’s contemporaneously filed May 22, 2020 Petition for Reconsideration because the Order and Authorization relied upon a “new and unproven harmful interference metric and imposes unworkable conditions while still uncertain whether GPS receivers critical to national security and public safety would experience remediable harmful interference.”
The FCC found that NTIA failed to establish any of the elements necessary to receive a stay. First, NTIA has conceded that irreparable harm is unlikely to occur because the alleged harmful interference will not likely arise until after Ligado deploys its network. Ligado is not likely to deploy its network for 18 months, prior to which, the FCC will have ruled on the Petition for Reconsideration; thus, no irreparable harm is likely to occur. Second, the FCC concluded that NTIA was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its harmful interference argument because the FCC addressed NTIA’s claims in the Order and Authorization. To the extent that NTIA may be attempting to present additional data on the harmful interference argument, the FCC found that NTIA’s argument was untimely. Third, the FCC found that a stay would cause substantial harm to Ligado because it would reduce interest from equipment manufactures, which are necessary to deploy Ligado’s network, and greatly reduce Ligado’s business opportunities. Fourth, the FCC concluded that a stay would be contrary to the public interest because it would deter Ligado from taking initial steps to deploy their network, delaying deployment their overall network, which will eventually be used to provide 5G and Internet of Things services, among other essential consumer services.
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