Save Our GPS Coalition Urges FCC to Keep Spectrum Free of Interference
November 10 2011 – The Save Our GPS Coalition, a broad alliance of aviation, military, law enforcement, agricultural, and other GPS users that includes EAA, has asked the Federal Communications Commission to “promptly rule” that the upper mobile satellite spectrum (MSS) band be permanently protected from high-powered terrestrial operations in order to preserve safety and usability of millions of GPS units.
Tuesday’s filing to the FCC maintains that LightSquared, which has proposed creating a national wireless network, continues to ask for rights to frequencies near those used by current GPS units including those for general aviation. The danger, according to the Save Our GPS Coalition, is that the high-powered LightSquared signal could easily overwhelm current GPS units, making them inaccurate or unusable.
Reliable GPS service is also a key element of FAA’s NextGen air traffic control system, which is projected to eventually replace ground-based radar units by the end of the decade. Emergency services and the military also rely on GPS technology extensively. Congressional committee members in the House and Senate have expressed grave concerns regarding the LightSquared proposal and have threatened action if the technology concerns are not addressed.
LightSquared maintains that GPS units themselves are the problem and have suggested fixes that would remedy the situation, with the cost borne by individual GPS owners. “The GPS manufacturing industry has failed to invest in proper design of its devices so that it could continue to enjoy the free benefit of using spectrum that is allocated to LightSquared,” retorted Terry Neal, LightSquared’s senior vice president of public relations and communications.
“Unfortunately, LightSquared has it backward when it projects itself as the victim in this matter,” said Doug Macnair, EAA’s vice president of government relations. “The real victims would be aviation safety, emergency service reliability, law enforcement response, and other key services and industries that have been long-established GPS users. The satellite frequency spectrum was never intended for use by high-powered, ground-based systems. The Global Positioning System has used the spectrum precisely as designed and intended, with low power, satellite-based signals. GPS owners should in no way be forced to bear the expense of allowing LightSquared’s misapplication of the satellite frequency band that would net that company billions of dollars in profits.”
The FCC is expected to receive further extensive research on the GPS interference issue by the end of November as it considers the final decision on LightSquared’s application.