Let’s invest in America’s digital Infrastructure, too
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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are gearing up to craft what could be a landmark infrastructure bill that makes comprehensive investments in our roads, railways, highways, ports, utilities and public transit. 

The promised trillion-dollar package is desperately needed – the nonpartisan American Civil Society of Engineers just released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card giving most of our infrastructure near-failing grades.

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As we plan how to create jobs and grow our economy in a fast-changing world, let’s not miss this opportunity to invest in America’s digital infrastructure. An ever-increasing proportion of our economy is dependent on high-speed connectivity, and the Internet of Things guarantees billions more connected devices will come online in the coming years. We can’t build our economy on creaky and outdated digital networks any more than we can on crumbling roads.

 

This is the driving force behind Ligado’s work to build the country’s first advanced satellite-terrestrial network. This is a big idea that has never been done before in North America. Promising security and reliability that dramatically exceed current capabilities, this network would support the industrial Internet of Things.

Distinct from networks that will power consumer devices like phones and tablets, our next-generation network will cover core industries and critical public needs. Those include not only first responders – many of whom currently lack interoperable communications between ambulances, medevac helicopters and hospitals – but numerous others also responsible for public safety. Freight train conductors provide a great example, as they need reliable connectivity to provide vital safety information while making their way through rural communities.

We think it is important the next-generation wireless network used to power our digital future will be privately financed, and Ligado is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build its portion. Many other communications companies like Ligado are also eager to deploy the ingenuity and capital investments of private enterprise to build networks that will serve the public good. 

Ligado has invested many years and millions of private-capital dollars to research, develop and build a truly innovative network. We’ve participated in numerous independent studies to test and prove the safety and efficacy of our network. We’ve worked closely with the federal government, the nation’s leading Global Positioning System providers and other tech companies to ensure our network operates in harmony with existing and important technologies like GPS.

Most recently, a comprehensive federal government test conducted by the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network produced data that confirms our network can co-exist with adjacent devices. We’ve worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and many other stakeholders to be absolutely certain our network will meet all current and future FAA safety standards.

And we’ve worked with GPS companies to address their concerns – agreeing to significantly lower our power, while also limiting our out-of-band-emissions and forgoing terrestrial use of a portion of spectrum closest to GPS. Because we worked together to address these concerns, we’re pleased to have co-existence agreements with five top GPS manufacturers. With broad support and partnership for our approach, we are in the final stages and readying plans for deployment.

One thing anyone who has spent time in Washington knows is change is hard. In recent days, we’ve been attacked by an incumbent company that apparently views Ligado’s new technology as a threat to its business. We know that’s how the game works, and as we’ve always done, we’ll continue to answer attacks with facts. And the fact is, building this network is good for America and important for our future. Study after study has shown it can be done safely and effectively, and a broad coalition of public and private stakeholders is working with us to get the job done. For anyone who still has concerns, we’ve made it clear that our door is always open.

We’ve followed regular order every step of the way by having all the analyses and study results on record at the Federal Communications Commission for all the world to see. We’ve brought many public and private entities together, because we care about getting this done the right way. We understand the importance of our nation’s limited spectrum and the need to use it efficiently. That’s why we’ve worked hard to ensure that critical spectrum applications can coexist successfully and that we use what we have as efficiently as possible.

We believe America can solve hard challenges with new ideas, but this can only happen if we invest in the foundational elements upon which great ideas and extraordinary innovation are built. These are the kinds of investments that lawmakers and Americans of all views and backgrounds can support. 

Valerie Green is executive vice president and chief legal officer for Ligado Networks.


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