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Defense officials criticize Ligado's 5G proposal at Senate hearing

Chief of Space Operations at U.S. Space Force General John Raymond testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the FCC's Ligado 5G network approval on Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Pool photo by Shawn Thew/UPI
Chief of Space Operations at U.S. Space Force General John Raymond testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the FCC's Ligado 5G network approval on Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Pool photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- Top Pentagon officials told lawmakers Wednesday that a proposed nationwide network to provide 5G and internet-of-things services was "too risky to be worth it."

"This is fundamentally a bad deal for America's national and economic security," said Dana Deasy, the Department of Defense's Chief Information Officer, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the recently-approved Ligado proposal and its implications for national security.

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In April the Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal that would allow Ligado Networks to deploy technological services using the L-band spectrum that runs adjacent to the spectrum used for global positioning systems, which form the basis for most mapping software.

The Department of Defense has repeatedly criticized the proposal, saying it would disrupt defense operations as well as significant aspects of civilian life.

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At Wednesday's hearing defense leaders warned that the Ligado plan would disrupt the accuracy of weapons systems, first responders' 911 navigation ability and shipping systems.

"GPS has also long been a critical technology that has supported the Nation's public safety, law enforcement medical and medical responders. It literally saves lives. While Americans at home are typically not under threat of purposeful electronic attack, the GPS services they depend on every day for life and livelihood are also threatened if the GPS signal and its environment are not protected from disruption," said General John W. Raymond, head of the newly-created United States Space Force.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen criticized the lack of transparency in the process by which the decision was made, as well as the likely technological consequences.

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"In the case of Ligado Networks, FCC did not follow the normal regulatory process for reasons that remain unclear," Allen said, drawing a contrast from the process of issuing a license to Dish Networks to convert satellite service spectrum to terrestrial mobile broadband spectrum.

Ligado wrote a letter to the committee, which was read Wednesday, defending its technology as critical to 5G development.

"We now look forward to the opportunity to build a network that will advance our Nation's progress on the race to 5G," the company wrote.

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