ATM Modernization, Commercial, Military

Report: More Evidence of GPS Interference

By Tish Drake | December 15, 2011
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A government technical group said Wednesday LightSquared’s wireless broadband network caused harmful interference to “the majority” of general purpose GPS receivers in tests, and analysis from FAA found the service interfered with terrain awareness systems in aircraft.

The findings were presented to the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing. Over the next several weeks, the final analysis of the findings will be completed and a final report will be transmitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

LightSquared is attempting to build a nationwide 4G-LTE wireless broadband network integrated with satellite coverage. It will combine existing mobile satellite communications services (formerly known as SkyTerra) with a ground-based wireless communications network that uses the same L-band radio spectrum as the satellites. Earlier this year, the Reston, Va.-based company was granted a conditional waiver by the FCC to operate in the upper and lower 10 MHz mobile satellite spectrum bands, provided LightSquared could prove its operations would not interrupt GPS systems. But following the work of the FCC-directed Technical Working Group earlier this year, LightSquared revised its plans, asking that the interference issue be considered based only on the use of the lower 10 MHz spectrum. FCC determined additional testing was necessary to assess potential GPS interference in lower 10 MHz spectrum. However, LightSquared has said it may need to use the upper band spectrum, possibly as soon as 2015.

“LightSquared has had the legal and regulatory right to use its spectrum for eight years over two administrations. The testing further confirmed that the interference issues are not caused by LightSquared's spectrum, but by GPS devices looking into spectrum that is licensed to LightSquared. We have taken extraordinary measures — and at extraordinary expense — to solve a problem that is not of our making. We continue to believe that LightSquared and GPS can co-exist. And we will continue to work with the federal government on a solution that will allow us to begin investing $14 billion in private money into the infrastructure of America to create jobs, competition and increased access to technology to the nation,” Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO of LightSquared, said in a statement Thursday.

The final test report will be sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which advises the President on telecommunications policy, and represents federal agencies to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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