Trimble Official Disputes LightSquared GPS Claims

 - October 10, 2011, 1:55 PM

The Coalition to ‘Save Our GPS,’ through vice president and general counsel Jim Kirkland of founding member Trimble, has responded to claims by LightSquared, which is seeking approval for a terrestrial broadband communication service in a frequency spectrum very close to that of GPS. Writing to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Kirkland categorically refuted claims by made by LightSquared. The letter was released to news media at the NBAA Annula Meeting and Convention, being held October 10-12 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Specifically, the coalition stated that, “General Shelton is correct that LightSquared has proposed a new and fundamentally different use of the MSS band adjacent to GPS.” Its plan, the letter continues, “would represent a major policy change as well as a major change in spectrum use.”
The coalition also pointed out that various assertions made by LightSquared are “clearly calculated either to hide or justify a multibillion-dollar spectrum windfall for its owners.” The mobile satellite spectrum that Harbinger Capital acquired from LightSquared’s predecessor in March 2010 was originally awarded for free, the coalition noted. Its current value, if limited to satellite use, is estimated at $2 billion, “but $12 billion if it can be used for unrestricted terrestrial mobile broadband services,” said the coalition. It added that the White House has pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fast-track the LightSquared application, despite warnings from military and industry experts that the LightSquared plan, as presented, would jeopardize the integrity of both surface and aviation GPS service.
GPS receivers do not encroach on LightSquared’s spectrum and are designed appropriately,” Kirkland’s letter to the House committee noted. It added, “LightSquared’s contention that GPS receivers should have been designed differently…to avoid interference depends entirely on its inaccurate claim that the FCC authorized nationwide terrestrial service and terrestrial-only services in the MSS band in 2005. GPS receivers were designed in expectation that the ‘quiet neighborhood’ in which MSS service was originally authorized would be maintained.”
Furthermore, the coalition charges that “LightSquared is directly responsible for interference to high-precision GPS receivers, but still refuses to accept responsibility for costs of replacing these receivers if and when new technology becomes available.” The letter cites both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and FCC as calling for “more testing of GPS devices in the presence of signals from LightSquared’s lower 10 MHz of spectrum.”
The letter to Congress concludes by noting a substantial cost impact of interference to GPS and the adverse effect of LightSquared’s planned implementation on the nation’s military forces. GPS currently fuels annual economic activity of between $68 billion and $122 billion, and “an estimated $3 trillion worth of commerce relies on GPS for tracking, timing and navigation” worldwide.