Garmin: LightSquared Could Seriously Affect GPS

 - February 17, 2011, 9:45 AM

Garmin reports that LightSquared’s proposed nationwide broadband Internet service could seriously interfere with GPS signals. As a result of this and other filed objections, the FCC is withholding LightSquared’s operational approval until a three-month independent expert analysis agrees that this will not occur. Separately, it is suggested that if residual interference remains, GPS owners would need to modify or even replace their receivers. The question then is who pays. The FAA acknowledges that NextGen will make certain non-compliant GPS units obselete, and the agency is investigating owner incentives to buy replacements. An industry observer asked AIN, “Logically, shouldn’t LightSquared, a private for-profit corporation, offer the same?” The question extends equally to all GPS users, both airborne and terrestrial. So far, the Department of Defense has simply advised the federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration of its “great concerns of interference aspects” related to LightSquared, as well as of “the risk of GPS losses in vital accuracy or service coverage.” Yet behind those polite words lies the iron hand of the sole custodian of GPS.