Statement | May 19, 2020

Ligado Networks President and CEO Doug Smith Remarks at the Wireless Infrastructure Association Connect(X) All Access Event

As prepared for delivery

WASHINGTON, D.C. May 19, 2020 – Thank you so much for having me, and I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this incredibly challenging time.

I’m grateful for the chance to discuss the important work that wireless companies are doing—and the critical support that wireless infrastructure provides.

One thing I can’t stop thinking about during this crisis is how much it reminds us of the importance of this industry’s work – and how much work we still have ahead of us.  It’s not lost on any of us that even the fact that we’re able to attend this conference virtually in the midst of a global crisis is a testament to how far technology has taken us.

Imagine if this pandemic had hit just ten years ago—at a time when smartphones weren’t ubiquitous, when videoconferencing was uncommon, and when the Internet of Things was in its infancy.

From consumer applications like connected vehicles, health services, and wearable technology, to industrial products in transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture, to national security applications, we have become the very definition of critical infrastructure.

The reality is, the way we communicate is fundamentally different than it was even one decade ago, and it will be fundamentally different one decade from now.

But those changes won’t happen on their own. They will happen because America chooses to lead – and we answer that call.

For those who are less familiar with Ligado, we are a Mobile Satellite Services operator providing facilities-based services and support to mission critical applications in enterprise, public safety, government, and industrial segments.

Our North American network is highly complementary to the national carriers—and has traditionally served the role of extending mobile coverage or providing network redundancy.

Our area of specialty is “Industrial 5G,” such as connectivity for first responders, hospitals, and supply chain logistics.

These may not be the applications that make the headlines, but one thing we know is that they are critical for our safety, economic and national security, and way of life.

Even at a time of extensive wireless solutions, too many rural and remote areas are left out and left behind. In important ways, our industry still needs to find ways to reach people and industries where they are.

And with the economic challenges we’re facing right now, Ligado stands “shovel ready” to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in advanced technology, deliver new services to the critical infrastructure sector, and support the creation of thousands of American jobs.

You may know that the Federal Communications Commission just unanimously approved our application to deploy a terrestrial L band—affirming existing and growing bipartisan support.  This is great news for Ligado after several years of testing and proving our network.  But I think it’s also a statement that our country, our government, our industry, is ready to lead.

So what comes next? In the near future, Ligado is going to take five steps to enhance our MSS network for IoT and introduce new, innovative terrestrial services.

First, we want to harness the standards-based technology that’s used in existing networks to support IoT devices today, and deploy it on our satellite networks—allowing devices to move seamlessly between wireless towers and satellite networks, and meeting the requirements of next-generation IoT service to be ubiquitous and ultra-reliable.

Second, we plan to modify our existing 3GPP Band—working with companies like Nokia, Ericsson, and Qualcomm—so Ligado’s spectrum is standardized for the 5G ecosystem.

Third, we will advance our device roadmap, working with producers of IoT devices that can connect both to the satellite network and the terrestrial network—keeping technology and organizations connected when it matters most.

Fourth, we want to create a new kind of network that uses the scale of technologies available to national carriers by offering licensed spectrum and network services to industrial companies that need purpose-built and secure coverage.

Essentially, we want to enable industrial companies to use the scale of technology that’s available to carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T, while still offering them the ability to control the design, deployment, and operation of their mobile network.

Our vision is the best of both worlds: the scale of a public network, with a private network’s control and customization.

And fifth, we hope to complement the wireless networks that millions of people use every day—adding value to consumers and providing spectrum partnership to carriers across the country.

And of course, as we make progress in each of these five areas, we look forward to partnering with leaders in the wireless infrastructure sector on our build timelines and deployment.

Ultimately, we are talking about creating a seamless wireless experience that boosts productivity, increases worker safety, deploys new business models and promotes product innovation.

We’ll protect GPS, enable the expedited deployment of industrial 5G, and serve America’s critical industries.

We’ll help support the lives and livelihoods of consumers in urban and rural areas across the country and advance the next generation of American infrastructure.

And at a time of historic instability here at home and around the world, we will contribute to America’s national security and economic progress.

Ten years ago, these goals would not have been possible. Today, they are not just ideas—they are achievements within reach.

America’s wireless industry is ready to advance this country’s mobile economy, extend our leadership, and accelerate our transition to a more powerful wireless future.

We’re ready to go.  And we’re excited to join with all of you in the service of our shared vision to make those goals a reality.

Thank you very much.


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