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LightSquared Faces Ever Increasing Opposition, But GPS Not Saved Yet

FCC seeks additional public comments

February 16, 2012 - After the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) concluded that LightSquared's wireless broadband signals interfere with millions of GPS devices in use today - including for aviation navigation - the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Wednesday that it is asking for more public comments prior to making the final decision to withdraw the Conditional Waiver Order issued to LightSquared last year. Withdrawing the Conditional Waiver Order will kill LightSquared plans to establish a high-speed wireless data network. The final FCC decision is anticipated no later than March 31, 2012, and if the waiver is canceled it gives a complete victory to the Save Our GPS Coalition, of which EAA is a member. The coalition has been vehemently opposing LightSquared's proposal for the past year.

Lawrence Strickling, NTIA assistant secretary for communications and information, informed FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that LightSquared's proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services "and there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time."

The FCC then announced it would vacate the Conditional Waiver Order to LightSquared and suspend indefinitely the company's Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority, or the authority to operate cell towers.

"The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted," read a statement from FCC spokesperson Tammy Sun. "This is why the Conditional Waiver Order issued by the Commission's International Bureau prohibited LightSquared from beginning commercial operations unless harmful interference issues were resolved."

"EAA is deeply gratified to learn that the FCC is favorably contemplating the recommendations of the fair and impartial evaluation by the NTIA, thus potentially saving GPS from being swamped by the high-powered, round-based signals proposed by LightSquared," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. "All of us who carry portable wireless devices are eager to have ubiquitous wireless broadband service and would love for an effort such as LightSquared to be successful, but not at the risk of compromising aviation safety and jeopardizing the welfare of pilots and their passengers."

"The general aviation community and other industries that rely on GPS banded together on this issue and worked hard on Capitol Hill and with various federal agencies to ensure that the harmful effects on GPS of the LightSquared proposal and their ramifications were fully understood," he added. "This is another successful example of EAA President Rod Hightower's principle that we are indeed 'stronger together.'"

Based on the February 15 FCC letter calling for additional public comments, EAA is once again asking members to submit thoughts to the FCC regarding the LightSquared proposal. EAA recommends your comments focus on these three points:

  1. How you use GPS technology in your business and/or personal life
  2. What would happen to your business/personal life if GPS became unavailable or unreliable
  3. That the FCC should formally adopt the NTIA recommendations and deny LightSquared the authority to offer any ground-based wireless network in the satellite band

To submit comments, simply click here, then click on the link to Proceeding11-109 and follow instructions. When done, click on the continue button to confirm (submit) your comments or modify them.

While this is an important step for GA in the battle against GPS interference, EAA will continue to be vigilant until such time as the FCC makes their final determination.

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