Report Confirms Cell Phone Network Could Shut Down GPS Devices

The Washington Post reports that a report delivered Friday, June 3, to the FAA, but not yet publicly released, says deployment of LightSquared’s new network could effectively shut down GPS devices.  The report, according to the article, puts the Obama Administration in a difficult position because while it has promised to make broadband available to all Americans, it also has pushed airlines to invest billions of dollars installing GPS equipment.

LightSquared’s Jeff Carlisle is quoted:

  • "Though we've not seen the full report, the summary indicates the analysis shows there would be interference if we used the frequencies closest to GPS, but it also indicates that if we use the frequencies farthest away from GPS, we would not cause any interference.”
  • "Like all spectrum holders, we have an obligation to operate properly within our band, and we take that responsibility very seriously”… “A robust GPS system is a vital national resource that LightSquared will not jeopardize."

Bobby Sturgell, a former acting FAA administrator now with Rockwell Collins, was also quoted:

  • "We want to see the complete report"… “However, the executive summary confirms what we believe, that LightSquared's terrestrial-based system interferes with aviation GPS, which is a major public safety issue."
  • Sturgell said the LightSquared plan is "a big concern not just to NextGen, but to the GPS community at large, and the military is very concerned about it, as well. This company has a conditional waiver, they're marching toward a September deadline to start rolling out these towers and they want to have service by the end of the year."

The AEA is a member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, an activist group working on behalf of the GPS manufacturing community to oppose the potential threat by LightSquared to build cell tower networks that could interfere with GPS signals used in aviation, military and consumer applications.