Industries Organize To Protect GPS Users


Washington - Seventeen companies have formed a lobbying group to ensure that the 4G wireless service planned by LightSquared does not interfere with users of existing GPS devices.

The Coalition to Save Our GPS consists of companies in the aviation, agriculture, transportation, construction, engineering and surveying industries as well as suppliers of GPS-based equipment and services.

"LightSquared's plans to build up to 40,000 ground stations transmitting radio signals one billion times more powerful than GPS signals as received on earth could mean 40,000 'dead spots' -- each miles in diameter -- disrupting the vitally important services GPS provides," the coalition contended.

Under a mandate by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the GPS industry and LightSquared already plan to conduct field tests to determine whether LightSquared's terrestrial cell sites will interfere with the operation of GPS-equipped consumer products and commercial devices, as Garmin believes based on its own limited tests. FCC approval of LightSquared's network was conditioned on such testing.

The LightSquared network would operate in a band next to the GPS band.

The coalition also wants the government to agree to additional safeguards, including assurances that the studies are "comprehensive, objective and based on correct assumptions about existing GPS uses rather than theoretical possibilities."  The views of LightSquared should be "entitled to no special weight in this process," the group added.

The coalition also wants the FCC's requirement that "harmful interference concerns have been resolved" should be changed to mean that interference issues have been "resolved to the satisfaction of preexisting GPS providers and users."

The group also wants the FCC to make it clear that "LightSquared must bear the costs of preventing interference of any kind resulting from operations on LightSquared's frequencies" and that "GPS users or providers should not have to bear any of the consequences of LightSquared's actions."

 In addition, the coalition wants the FCC to warn LightSquared and its investors not invest in operating facilities before the FCC's final OK, or at least "make it explicit that they do so at their own risk," the coalition said. "While this is the FCC's established policy, it failed to make this explicit in its order."


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