US Seeks to Toss Out Ligado Spectrum Lawsuit

The Ligado spectrum rights saga continues.

The US government filed a motion to dismiss Ligado’s lawsuit over spectrum rights last week, challenging the court’s jurisdiction and disputing the satcom provider’s claims.

Origin story: In 2020, the FCC authorized Ligado’s use of the L-band spectrum, green-lighting its plans for a terrestrial 5G network. The company said it spent billions of dollars to secure the license. 

However, the DoD, NTIA, and members of Congress objected to the L-band license, saying it could potentially interfere with GPS.

  • “Simply put, the FCC is jeopardizing GPS signals that Americans rely on every day,” said retired Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

$39B quarrel: Ligado sued the US in October to recover $39B, claiming the DoD had “taken Ligado’s spectrum for the agency’s own purposes operating previously undisclosed systems that use or depend on Ligado’s spectrum without compensating Ligado.” The company argued its L-band spectrum rights—the exclusive use of a radio frequency—were violated and its 5G ambitions were foiled. 

  • The lawsuit asserted it was “the largest uncompensated taking of private property by our nation’s government in modern times.”

The recent US dismissal filing argued that “no court has held that an FCC license is property for takings purposes, and the court with primary jurisdiction over FCC licensing matters—the DC Circuit—has held that FCC licenses are not property under the Takings Clause.”

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