Congress Calls for New GPS Interference Standards

Move seeks to set broader safeguards for GPS and Nex Gen.

GPS Satellite

GPS Satellite

Artist's rendition of a GPS satellite

On the heels of passage of the $64.3 billion FAA funding bill earlier this week, the House Subcommittee on Aviation on Wednesday emphasized the need for clearer GPS interference guidelines as the country's air traffic system makes the shift from radar surveillance to a Nex Gen system based on GPS.

The move comes after Congress set aside approximately $11 billion in the new funding bill toward the modernization program, as well as a June 2015 deadline for optimizing the system for GPS approaches at the country’s 35 busiest airports.

According to the FAA, more than $8 billion has already been invested in Nex Gen, and the program is estimated to reap benefits worth $23 billion by 2018 and more than $120 billion by 2030.

The recent LightSquared saga, however, which revolves around the company's plan to develop a wireless broadband system using bandwidth close to that used by GPS, has prompted controversy and raised larger questions about the need for additional safeguard's for a system so central to aviation safety and efficiency.

U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari spoke to those concerns on Wednesday, saying that due to unanimous conclusion regarding LightSquared GPS interference, “no additional testing or analysis is warranted at this time.”

He went on to emphasize the need to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration toward new standards that “inform future proposals for non-space, commercial uses in the bands adjacent to the GPS signals.”

For more on the Nex Gen system, and Editor-in-Chief Robert Goyer's take on whether putting all our eggs in the GPS basket is a good thing, read Sensor Sensitivity.