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?