Tests Confirm LightSquared's GPS Interference, Group Contends

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Washington - Testing required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to determine whether LightSquared's planned 4G LTE network will interfere with GPS equipment has found there will be "substantial interference," a lobbying group contended today.

"The test data discussed today makes clear that there is substantial interference to GPS if LightSquared turns on high-powered terrestrial facilities in the spectrum next door to GPS," said James Kirkland, a VP of Trimble Navigation and founding member of the

Coalition to Save Our GPS


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

Garmin, a maker of commercial GPS equipment and portable navigation devices (PNDs), previously

conducted its own limited tests

and has contended that the network will interfere with consumer, commercial, and public-safety GPS equipment.

During a meeting here sponsored by the federal government's GPS advisory board, Kirkland said the testing data "confirm what the industry told the FCC" and also "confirms that there is no viable technical fix." The FCC should stop "trying to find a solution to an unfixable problem" and should "focus its efforts on finding spectrum that LightSquared can operate in - where LightSquared won't interfere with GPS."

At the event, Kirkland, government representatives and LightSquared discussed the results of two separate tests conducted to measure interference to GPS receivers used in aviation and other government applications.

In at least one test, he contended, LightSquared didn't deliver "test equipment that matches its proposed operations, thus causing optimistic results - and even those optimistic results showed interference."

Kirkland stated, "No one in the GPS industry opposes [LightSquared's] goals of increasing wireless data capacity and competition, but the available data has shown overwhelming interference, and LightSquared should not be allowed to launch in the spectrum adjacent to GPS."

A report on the tests is due to the FCC on June 15, when a public comment period will begin before the FCC makes a final decision on whether LightSquared can begin building its network.

LightSquared plans a satellite- and terrestrial-based 4G network to provide terrestrial- and satellite-based voice and data service on a wholesale basis to retailers, cable operators, and other companies that want to offer service under their own brand.

Best Buy has entered into an agreement to resell LightSquared's planned 4G LTE voice and data service under its own Best Buy Connect brand. And carrier Leap Wireless, which is building its own 4G LTE network, has entered into a roaming agreement with LightSquared to extend the areas in which its users can access 4G.

The FCC late last year granted a waiver to let LightSquared build the terrestrial network in the 1,525MHz to 1,559MHz L-band, which was previously reserved only for satellite service. The FCC, however, made the waiver contingent on LightSquared and the GPS industry resolving any potential interference problems.


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