In The News

In The News | Forbes | Roslyn Layton | March 28, 2018

Ligado Has Resolved Spectrum Interference and Made GPS Better. Now It’s Government’s Turn.

Spectrum represents a quintessential question of economics. How to allocate a finite set of resources — the radio airwaves — to users with an unlimited set of wants and needs? Remarkably, markets sort out these problems through pricing, and technology allows more efficient use of scarce resources. The problem becomes more complicated in real life when government gives valuable spectrum away for free to preferred actors. Only a sliver of total radio spectrum has the properties which makes it suitable for commercial broadcast and cellular service. But this band is also used by the government for space operations, aeronautical navigation, military surveillance, meteorology, maritime communication, marine tracking, and law enforcement. The key challenge is that commercial actors pay for the right to use the spectrum and must abide by a complex set of licensing requirements, while government actors get it for free and have little to no incentive to it efficiently. Unsurprisingly, this sub-optimal allocation has many unintended effects, including an artificially high price for the scarce amount of spectrum that is allowed to be auctioned, limited market entry, and signal interference among users.  Fortunately, sharing problems can be solved through dialogue and improved technology — as providers of technologies using LTE-U achieved with the Wi-Fi community, and as the company Ligado is forging today with Global Positioning System (GPS)…

Ligado has proven that it is a good partner, and it will take ample steps to mitigate potential harm. It has addressed the concerns of other parties, including offering proven plans to upgrade outdated equipment to achieve better outcomes. The company deserves the right to try, and the many industries, millions of consumers, and thousands of potential employees, deserve to enjoy this next generation technology – as well as better and more resilient GPS systems.  As the private sector has stepped up, now it’s time for the government to do its part.

Read the full op-ed at Forbes.