Ligado has in fact crafted an array of neighborly solutions, settling with one after another of its antagonists. It has put money on the table to make peace with the GPS band users such as Garmin, Trimble and Deere. These bargains confirm that no insurmountable “interference” problem exists. Ligado has also agreed to set aside a wide swath of bandwidth as a quiet zone bordering GPS. This will be replaced by other frequency rights purchased by Ligado—why it needs to bid on the “Fast Track” band to launch its network.
The wireless ecosystem may be the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World, but the 1927 radio regime is a petrified relic. What is happening here to Ligado happens all over, stifling innovation. In 2014 a major research firm, Battelle, asked the FCC to access another patch of vacant frequencies. After two years of agency unresponsiveness, the organization axed the project. Michael Marcus, a former FCC Chief Engineer who assisted the company, told me that Battelle vowed never to again invest in any technology needing non-routine FCC approvals.
With red tape cumbersome and deadlines non-existent, it is much too easy to fend off enterprising change agents. If there are serious concerns about conflicting rights, herd the parties into Baseball Arbitration where each enters their best and final offer. The arbitrator then picks one. Call it a “Fast Track.” But make a decision.
Read the full op-ed at Bloomberg BNA.