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FCC Promises to Keep GPS Safe

August 18, 2011 – The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission pledged last week to keep GPS safe from potential interference from LightSquared’s proposed broadband wireless system. At the agency’s monthly meeting last week, CC Chairman Julius Genachowski assured users of an estimated 500 million GPS-enabled devices and services that the commission will not allow the proposed hybrid satellite/terrestrial broadband wireless service to interfere with functioning GPS technology. FCC officials indicate more testing of a modified LightSquared proposal is necessary to address interference issues. Construction of the new system remains on hold pending federal approval.

The FAA, meanwhile, has voiced serious reservations about LightSquared’s proposed network, stating that U.S. aircraft would have to be retrofitted over a 10-year period and that the industry would have to design, develop, certify, and install modified equipment in the civil aviation fleet to accommodate LightSquared transmissions.

The FAA also estimates a $72 billion total cost to taxpayers, a 10-year implementation delay of the NextGen initiative, which relies on a GPS system, plus a need to re-plan an estimated $17 billion in NextGen investments if LightSquared is deployed.

SaveOurGPS, a wide-ranging coalition of industries and companies, called the FAA report “an extraordinary indictment” of LightSquared’s plans.

“Just consider the fact that FAA analysis and tests find that if LightSquared is allowed to deploy as it wants to that GPS is expected to be unavailable for planned aviation use over the whole of the continental U.S,” Jim Kirkland, vice president and general counsel of Trimble, said in a statement. “How much more evidence is needed to stop wasting time on this irresponsible plan?”

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