The Global Positioning System (GPS) is something Americans depend on everyday, a worldwide utility affecting nearly every facet of modern day life.
Since the first GPS satellites were launched more than 30 years ago, the GPS system has become a critical and extremely reliable part of our national infrastructure. The free, open and dependable nature of GPS system enables users such as farmers, bankers, pilots, construction workers, hikers, police officers, firefighters, and people from many other walks of life to do their jobs and to use location in new and creative ways.
Hundreds of members of the GPS industry have united through an organization called “The Coalition To Save Our GPS” to fight the approval of a new wireless network proposed by a company called LightSquared, due to serious concerns that part of LightSquared’s network might interfere with GPS (Global Positioning System) devices. GPS industry members opposed to the LightSquared network include corporate giants such as General Motors Co. (GM) and Garmin (GRMN), FedEX, Caterpillar plus many others who say the plan to use spectrum originally set aside for satellites could drown out GPS system signals.
The GPS Coalition seeks a number of remedies from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which recently granted a waiver to LightSquared that allows them to repurpose the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of the GPS.
Yesterday LightSquared decided to make its side of the story public by investing in several full-page ads in newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times. The Coalition to Save Our GPS recently responded to the ads, saying, “Today’s expensive full-page ads repeat LightSquared’s same, tired claims that it full well knows are not accurate…”
“LightSquared’s goal of creating more broadband competition is laudable, but its initial failure to recognize the potential for interference to the GPS devices and services we all rely on every day is inexplicable, and its continuing efforts to claim that the problem has been ‘solved’ are irresponsible….It’s time for LightSquared to step forward and accept responsibility for providing fully tested, verified solutions, and for bearing the full costs associated with any transition required to implement any solution.”
LightSquared has vowed to use an alternate frequency and is testing filtering devices that it says could mitigate interference. LightSquared owns the frequency bands 1525 to 1559 MHz. GPS satellites use the adjacent 1559 to 1610 MHz bands. There is a risk that LightSquared signals could overpower weaker GPS signals.
Tthe FCC told LightSquared that it could not launch service until testing could be completed to determine the extent of the problems that LightSquared would cause. The report of that testing was submitted to the FCC on June 30, 2011 and it showed that there would be massive interference to GPS from LightSquared’s proposed operations. The FCC has asked for feedback from the public on the report.