GPS Coalition Addresses House Committee

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The Coalition To Save Our GPS has added members and is taking its fight to prevent the potential jamming of GPS signals by a proposed wireless broadband network to Washington. The coalition, which now counts all major aviation groups and GPS manufacturers along with marine and agriculture interests among its members, submitted a statement to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on the widely feared impact of LightSquared's plan to erect 40,000 transmission towers to distribute wireless broadband to rural areas. As we reported in February, it's not the service itself that has the GPS group worried, it's the frequency band that's been allocated.

The frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (1525-1559 Mhz) to LightSquared are adjacent to those (1559-1610 MHz) used by satellites to send timing signals to GPS receivers. LightSquared has been granted the use of the frequencies with the condition that its signals don't stray into the GPS band but the coalition says the sheer power of the broadband transmitters will overwhelm the weak signals that reach the ground from space. "LightSquared's proposal to build 40,000 terrestrial base stations operating at one billion times the power levels of GPS signals as received on Earth represents a tectonic change in the use of the L band," the coalition said in its statement. The FCC has made rural broadband a priority and LightSquared's service is a major component of a plan to ensure virtually universal access to fast Internet throughout the country. The coalition says that while everyone wants fast Internet, it shouldn't come at the expense of GPS, which has become an industry (not mention a strategic military necessity) unto its own in the last 30 years.