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Coalition to Save Our GPS Doubles Members in Two Weeks

Mar 24 2011, 8:10am CDT | by , in News | Technology News

Coalition to Save Our GPS Doubles Members in Two Weeks

Test first, approve later is what coalition wants

Earlier this month I mentioned that the FCC was planning to give some spectrum surrounding the spectrum GPS uses to wireless connectivity. Those in the GPS market have strongly opposed this plan claiming in that the signals from the new service will be many times stronger than the signals used by GPS and could interfere with the use of normal GPS devices.

The coalition had some big members at the time and it has now doubled its members in the two weeks since the coalition first launched its campaign to oppose the FCC. New members to the coalition include the International Air Transport Association, National Business Aviation Association, and the Regional Airline Association.

"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."

There are numerous other members in the coalition as well including: 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, Networkfleet, Payment Assurance Technology Association, PocketGPSWorld.com Ltd., Regional Airline Association, TomTom, Topcon, and UPS.

The row comes after the FCC granted LightSquared access to the satellite bandwidth right around that GPS uses for high-powered ground-based broadband transmissions. The FCC is conditional that the company must show that harmful interference can be avoided. I guess the coalition doesn't think that the interference can be avoided. Or they simply want the extra bandwidth for themselves.

The big problem for the coalition is that the FCC allowed the approval first and then is making LightSquared test for interference. The coalition wants more safeguards to the plan including: 

  • 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.

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