How Increased Radio Traffic Could Effect Your Navigation

We reported, back in May, in an article titled GPS Signals in Jeopardy about the potential interference in GPS signals caused by high-speed, broadband Internet and cell phone services. Back in January 2010 the FCC gave conditional approval to a private company, LightSquared, to build 40,000 ground stations within the U.S. that would transmit high-powered signals in the middle of the existing satellite band of frequencies.

The United States Departments of Transportation and Defense, on behalf of the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, sent a letter to the Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The Departments asked the NTIA Administrator to advise the Federal Communications Commission to continue to withhold authorization for LightSquared to commence commercial service per its proposed deployment of a terrestrial service within the 1525-1559 MHz bands. LightSquared’s proposal is to deploy a network of 40,000 base stations along with some satellite coverage over 139 major markets in the United States.

The Departments’ position follows an interagency review of the findings of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Systems Engineering Forum (NPEF), which was tasked to assess the GPS impacts of LightSquared’s deployment plan as originally filed. The NPEF determined that, if permitted to operate as originally planned, LightSquared’s signals would significantly interfere with GPS users and, as a result, impact national security, economic security, and public safety nationwide.

The NTIA Administrator forwarded the letter and report to the FCC Chairman. These materials can be found at http://www.pnt.gov/.

The Departments continue to support the National Broadband Plan, but cannot do so at the expense of a global, ubiquitous utility such as the Global Positioning System. The Departments encourage further assessment of any alternative spectrum and/or signal configuration plans.

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