FCC Allows GPS to be Jammed?

Under the Bush administration, the FCC seemed fascinated with BPL—even to the point of irrationality. Now, we may be seeing that same kind of behavior by the Obama adminstration’s FCC, although this time they seem to be fascinated with wireless connectivity. So much so that they may allow a company, Lightsquared, to interfere with GPS receivers. Lightsquared is in the process of setting up a satellite-based, 4G-LTE broadband network.

A recent article in GPS World reports, “On January 26, the FCC waived its own rules and granted permission for the potential interferer to broadcast in the L Band 1 (1525 MHz—1559 MHz) from powerful land-based transmitters. This band lies adjacent to the GPS band (1559—1610 MHz) where GPS and other satellite-based radio navigation systems operate.” According to the article, Lightsquared plans to install up to 40,000 high-power transmitters across the United States.

The article also reports on some simulation testing done by Garmin and Trimble, two manufacturers of GPS receivers, that really raises some concerns. The test report shows that a consumer devices, such as a GPS receiver in an automobile, began to experience jamming at a power level representing a distance of 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers) from the simulated LightSquared transmitter. The consumer device lost a fix at 0.66 miles (1.1 kilometers) from the transmitter.

They also simulated an aviation receiver. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified aviation receiver began to be jammed at a distance of 13.8 miles (22.1 kilometers) and experienced total loss of fix at 5.6 miles (9.0 kilometers) from the transmitter.

Interesting stuff, no?  I wonder how much Lightsquared payed its lobbyists to get this by the FCC?


  1. Dan KB6NU says:

    If you’re concerned at all about this topic, here’s a resource for you: http://www.saveourgps.org/.

  2. Ron Biava says:

    Hre is another resource


    July 12, 2011

    Dear BoatU.S. Member,

    As a result of a new proposal to use radio bandwidth right next to the existing GPS service, the future reliability of the GPS system across the United States is now in question. We encourage you to contact the FCC during a short 30-day public comment period, to help them understand the public’s need for continued, reliable GPS signals for safe navigation on boats, in cars, and for so many other daily uses.

    Background: Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave conditional approval to a private company, LightSquared, to begin a nationwide broadband service adjacent to the radio spectrum used for GPS. After concerns from user groups (including BoatU.S.), the FCC required significant testing and a report for potential conflicts with aviation, cellular, navigation, and four other GPS uses before this proposal could move forward. In that June 30th report the navigation sub-team concluded “that all phases of the LightSquared deployment plan will result in widespread harmful interference to GPS signals and service and that mitigation is not possible.”

    For more information: http://www.BoatUS.com/gov

    In 2010 the US Coast Guard shut down Loran, leaving mariners using electronic navigation to rely solely on GPS. Now, this fast-moving threat to GPS could pull the plug on our ability to safel navigate within the U.S. Public comments on LightSquared’s proposal will be taken until Saturday, July 30, 2011. Following that, the FCC will make a determination on what this private company can do with this vital public resource.

    We ask that you take a minute today, as a boater and a citizen, to request that the FCC reject the proposed LightSquared plan to deploy a private nationwide broadband service that can cripple the nation’s GPS systems. Because it is not easy to find your way through the FCC’s comment web forms, we suggest you follow the link below. Our software will help you easily construct a letter, which will be electronically delivered to your Members of Congress and BoatU.S. We will then print your letter and hand deliver it to the FCC before they close on Friday, July 29th.

    If you have any additional questions, please contact BoatU.S. Government Affairs at Govtaffairs@BoatUS.com

    Thank you for being a BoatU.S. Member!

    Margaret Podlich
    Vice President, BoatU.S. Government Affairs
    703-461-2878 x8363

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