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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

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.”