Rep Raps LightSquared, FAA To Begin Interference Tests

 - May 15, 2011, 7:30 AM

The confrontation between LightSquared and the U.S. government and industry GPS interests is heating up. LightSquared was able to obtain an FCC waiver of its satellite broadcast license to build a supplemental terrestrial transmitter network for broadband wireless. The GPS community claims that LightSquared’s plan, using a radio frequency close to that of GPS, will create interference. On Friday, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chair of the House Armed Services Committee on Strategic Forces, included a requirement in the forthcoming National Defense Authorization Act that Congress be notified of any widespread interference to GPS caused by a commercial communications service. In a snub to the FCC, Turner stated, “When it comes to GPS spectrum, government agencies must consult with the Defense Department on any effects.” The full House will vote on the bill at month end. Starting tomorrow, the FAA will be conducting tests of LightSquared transmitters at Las Vegas and Boulder City, Nev., and warned pilots that GPS interference could be encountered out to 175 nm and from ground level to FL400 and above–both far greater than many had anticipated. This interference area appears similar to that published by the USAF earlier in this year during tests of foreign military devices expressly designed to disrupt GPS.