Concerns that the latest FCC decision allowing additional broadcasts on similar frequencies poses a very dangerous interference of the essential GPS services grow rapidly among industry experts.
Particularly concerned are pilots, airlines and other aviation businesses that heavily rely on a reliable GPS service for their navigation.
Reportedly, the threat stems from a recent highly unusual decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant a conditional waiver allowing the dramatic expansion of terrestrial use of the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of GPS, potentially causing severe interference to millions of GPS receivers. The conditional waiver was granted to a company called LightSquared. For more information, please see the Coalition’s site, www.SaveOurGPS.org.
The “Coalition to Save Our GPS” Members Include the International Air Transport Association, National Business Aviation Association, the Regional Airline Association and Metropolitan Washington Airport Authorities.
The expanding “Coalition to Save Our GPS” announced today that its membership has more than doubled in two weeks. In turn, more than 30,000 companies are represented in the Coalition through their trade associations.
The additional members are representing a variety of concerned industries including aviation, transportation, technology, shipping, and consumer manufacturers are concerned about a serious threat to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – a national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.
“GPS now provides smaller airports with equivalent levels of safety to those serving large commercial airlines,” said National Business Aviation Association Senior Vice President for Operations and Administration, Steve Brown.
“But unlike carrier airports there are no alternate sources of landing guidance if the GPS experiences interference of any kind. The continued protection of satellite navigation is imperative to safety of flight.”
New members include:
• American Car Rental Association
• American Congress of Surveying and Mapping
• American Council of Engineering Companies
• Avidyne Corporation
• Equipped to Survive Foundation
• Hemisphere GPS
• International Air Transport Association
• National Business Aviation Association
• Payment Assurance Technology Association
• PocketGPSWorld.com Ltd.
• Regional Airline Association
• and UPS.
The new aviation-related members announced today join three important aviation groups that are initial members:
• Air Transport Association
• Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
• General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Other initial members are:
• Aeronautical Repair Stations Association
• American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
• American Rental Association
• Associated Equipment Distributors
• Association of Equipment Manufacturers
• Case New Holland
• Caterpillar Inc.
• Edison Electric Institute
• Deere & Company
• National Association of Manufacturers
• and Trimble.
The very unusual waiver granted in January to LightSquared by the FCC allows it to use its satellite spectrum for high-powered ground-based broadband transmissions if the company can demonstrate that harmful interference could be avoided. The usual FCC process of conducting extensive testing followed by approvals was not followed in this instance. Instead, the process was approve first, then test.
Additional safeguards are needed, so the Coalition recommends:
* The FCC must make clear, and the NTIA must ensure, that LightSquared’s license modification is contingent on the outcome of the mandated study. The study must be comprehensive, objective, and based on correct assumptions about existing GPS uses rather than theoretical possibilities. The views of LightSquared, as an interested party, are entitled to no special weight in this process.
* The FCC should make clear that LightSquared and their investors should not proceed to make any investment in operating facilities prior to a final FCC decision (or at least make it explicit that they do so at their own risk). While this is the FCC’s established policy, it failed to make this explicit in its order.
* Further, the FCC’s, and NTIA’s, finding that “harmful interference concerns have been resolved” must mean “resolved to the satisfaction of preexisting GPS providers and users.”
* Resolution of interference has to be the obligation of LightSquared, not the extensive GPS user community of millions of citizens. LightSquared must bear the costs of preventing interference of any kind resulting from operations on LightSquared’s frequencies. GPS users or providers should not have to bear any of the consequences of LightSquared’s actions.
* This is a matter of critical national interest. There must be a reasonable opportunity for public comment of at least 45 days on the report produced by the working group and further FCC actions on the LightSquared modification order should take place with the approval of a majority of the FCC commissioners, not at the bureau level.
The “Coalition to Save Our GPS” is working to resolve a serious threat to the Global Positioning System. The FCC granted a highly unusual conditional waiver for a proposal to build 40,000 ground stations that could cause widespread interference with GPS signals – endangering a national utility, which millions of Americans rely on every day. The conditional waiver was granted to a company called LightSquared. More info: www.SaveOurGPS.org
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