The FCC has made no secret about its desire to take the spectrum that isn’t being used to its full potential and give that spectrum to the wireless industry so that they can use it to expand the reach of broadband in the US. The FCC has already taken spectrum from TV broadcasters and is now looking to give firms access to the whitespace that has been used for years as a buffer between major services.
The latest bandwidth the FCC wants to give to a wireless company is the spectrum that surrounds the spectrum GPS uses. GPS is a wide ranging and very heavily used technology with most smartphones supporting GPS and many other devices supporting GPS as well.
According go some in the GPS industry, if the FCC gives the spectrum away as it plans the consequences for GPS could be dramatic. Trimble VP and General Counsel Jim Kirkland has testified before the House Appropriations Committee to try and talk them into stopping the FCC from heading the spectrum to a company called LightSquared.
According to Kirkland the "consequences of disruption" to the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that will be "far reaching, likely to affect large portions of the population and the federal government."
Kirkland went on to say, "Initial technical analyses have shown that the distant, low-powered GPS signals would receive substantial interference from high-powered, close-proximity transmissions from a network of ground stations. The consequences of disruption to the GPS signals are far reaching, likely to affect large portions of the population and the federal government. Therefore, it is imperative that the new system not be deployed unless it can be conclusively guaranteed that the GPS users are fully protected from radio interference."
The major problem according to the coalition trying to block the FCCs plan is that the base stations LightSquared plans to install around the country would produce signals about a billion times stronger than GPS signals. Kirkland and the committee he is part of want the FCC to halt the spectrum allotment until it can be proven undeniably that the new service will not impact GPS use.