Federal panel wants to ground LightSquared's 4G network

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, January 18, 2012 -The U.S. National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Committee (PNT) says that the LightSquared network could “cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers” as well as the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS).

LightSquared's proposed 4G-LTE network, a combined ground/satellite communications network, has so far failed to prove that its network will not interfere with the nation's GPS system.

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“Based upon analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time,” the committee wrote last week.

LightSquared said the test results reflected a “bias and inappropriate” conclusion, because the committee included non-governmental employees with ties to the GPS industry. The company maintains that the interference can be corrected with the addition of a “relatively inexpensive” filter to current GPS systems. Lightsquared requested that testing proceed in cooperation with all parties - LightSquared, government end-users, and GPS manufacturers.

“Members of the PNT Advisory Board have deep ties with the same GPS manufacturers who have sold poorly designed equipment to America's farmers, public safety officials, military and government agencies,” according to the broadband network.

LightSquared asked the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to retake the lead on government testing for GPS filtering solutions.

“By abandoning its commitment to test filter solutions for high-precision GPS devices, [the PNT has] put personal and private sector interests ahead of their public responsibilities,” according to a LightSquared statement released after the committee's decision. “The filters in question have been proven in third-party tests to correct the faulty designs of high-precision GPS equipment and eliminate issues related to interference.”

However, the “Coalition to Save Our GPS,” which includes Deere & Co., Caterpillar, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and Ag Leader Technology, claims Lightsquared's complaint is illegitimate.

“LightSquared has been afforded every possible opportunity to make its technical case, and has failed to demonstrate that it can avoid interference to many critical GPS based activities,” according to a Coalition statement released this week. “No credible, independent expert or organization has come forward to support LightSquared's claims of noninterference to millions of existing GPS devices.”



Original story printed in January 18, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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