Coalition Forms to Fight GPS Threat

Newly formed group appears before Congress.

Aviation interests are among the nearly 20 founding members of the "Coalition to Save Our GPS," a group created to reverse the successful application by LightSquared LLC for a nationwide satellite broadband service that experts say could interfere with GPS receivers. Announced on March 10 in Washington, D.C., the coalition includes the Air Transport Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Garmin and others. The group is seeking to overturn a January decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue a license to LightSquared of Reston, Virginina, to build a nationwide network of ground stations transmitting in the L-band spectrum adjacent to that of GPS.

The FCC waiver allows LightSquared to use spectrum in the 1525-1559 MHz band for broadband transmissions if it can demonstrate that interference will be avoided. The GPS system operates in the adjacent 1559-1610 MHz band. "LightSquared's plans to build up to 40,000 ground stations transmitting radio signals one billion times more powerful than GPS signals as received on earth could mean 40,000 'dead spots,' each miles in diameter, disrupting the vitally important services GPS provides," the coalition said. For more on the LightSquared controversy, see Robert Goyer's Going Direct column in the upcoming April 2011 issue of Flying.