FCC-Approved Deal Could Cause Potential GPS Interference

In January, the FCC decided to allow a high-speed internet and cell phone service to use frequencies close to existing GPS radio frequencies that could disrupt GPS signals and cause severe interference to a wide range of GPS receivers, including those used by boaters. On January 26th, 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. As part of that conditional approval, FCC required that additional testing and a report be prepared on the service’s potential to interfere with the GPS signals.  That report was completed on June 30th and raises significant concerns for boaters and other users of GPS.

The testing done by the National Telecommuncations and Information Administration submitted their recommendation to the Federal Government to not allow LightSquared to move forward at this time. Their report stated:

“The results of these measurements clearly demonstrate that implementing the
LightSquared Subsidiary LLC (LightSquared) planned deployment for terrestrial operations poses a significant potential for harmful interference to Global Positioning System (GPS) services. Thus, the concerns stated in my letter to you dated January 12, 2011, remain unresolved.”

While it is good for boaters that this was the finding, it doesn’t mean it’s over yet. The open comment period ends on July 30th, so if you want your voice to be heard, contact your state senators or go to www.boatus.com.

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