Tag Archives: GPS

Ukraine Sanctions With Teeth Instead of Gums Are Still Possible

Putin-laughing-at-serious-steps-memeFor a very brief moment it looked like the White House and I were finally going to be in agreement on the topic of misrule in the United States. Obama’s White House Press Office released a statement with harsh criticism of government actions that threaten “peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.”

It appeared the president had seen the light and was finally going to stop his abuse of office and his promiscuous use of executive orders. But then I read further and saw he was talking about Vladimir Putin and his beachfront trespassing in the Crimea. I thought Obama likes trespassers. Could it be that Putin rejected his offer of in–state tuition?

Of course there are differences between the strongman’s approach and that of the girlyman. Putin’s misrule is designed to advance the interests of Russian nationalism, while Obama appears content to undermine US standing and interests in the world.

With the result that Russian oligarchs will soon have prime sites for expansive vacation homes within the border of a newly expanded Russia. While our leaders launch deadly cutting remarks that include “wrong side of history” and “19th century thinking” mimicking Harvard faculty lounge habitués criticizing the NFL 1st round draft choice that gets the millions and the girl.

I know this criticism is not entirely fair. The Obama administration has decided to impose sanctions on Russia. Out of a current population of 141,924,000, the Obama administration has singled out seven (that’s right, seven) for punishment. The original intent of White House strategists was to just single out a certain percentage of cells in each of the seven individual’s body for pinpoint sanctions — gas pains, lumbago, toenail fungus, impotence — but the surgeon general informed the White House that either those maladies took to long to manifest or present technology didn’t support the goal.

Instead the administration opted for financial sanctions that make it harder for the Moscow 7 to gain access to any funds they have deposited in Western banks. The Washington Post described the strategy as an attempt “to see whether a symbolic first gesture would be sufficient to give Putin pause….” sorta like the famous “red line” in Syria.

Like much of Obama’s strategy, whether in health care or the economy, this gambit backfired. The Russian stock market went up after the announcement, instead of going down.

But that doesn’t mean the great minds in this administration are going to give up. Much like Robert McNamara carefully calibrating just the right amount of ordinance necessary to bring North Vietnam to its knees, Obama’s financial calibrations have room for expansion.

An administration insider has leaked a plan that will escalate the impact of the next round of sanctions to an almost superhuman level of intensity, while expanding the reach of inconvenience for the Russian Revanchists beyond just the financial realm.

None of the Seven are now allowed to make wire transfers withdrawing their funds from Western banks, but after the sanctions are escalated, they will be limited to a maximum ATM withdrawal of $40 per day AND the Coinstar machine will be completely off limits.

If any of the sanctioned try to travel to the US it’s also No More Mr. Nice Guy. The TSA’s expedited ‘Pre’ lane will be off limits. The Crimean Criminals will be assigned to the rubber gloves and high–school–field trips line for the foreseeable future and they will always be relegated to the last boarding group regardless of their frequent flyer status.

Assuming the Seven can’t take a hint and come to DC in spite of Obama’s disdain, anytime they attempt to use the Uber app to arrange transportation it will result in a fast busy signal, forcing them to use DC taxis. Even worse their lodgings will be in hotels built by Sochi Olympics construction firms.

Since unrepentant aggressors like these will no doubt try to bypass this sanction, even if they rent a car both the GPS device and their E–ZPass transponder will be jammed by NSA, meaning that even if they can find a toll road, they will be forced to use the exact change booth.

And finally, to show Obama really means business, if any of these Russian Reprobates have more than 15 items in their cart when shopping, they will be ejected from the express lane.

There’s also a role in this for Vice President ‘Uncle Joe’ Biden — a nickname freighted with meaning for Russians. Proving irony isn’t dead in this administration, Biden will be visiting many of the Western nations were Obama earlier canceled plans to install anti–missile batteries after Putin objected.

While looking due East, Uncle Joe will advise these buffer states to buy shotguns and if they see any Russian troops playing footsie with their borders, go out on the balcony, point the muzzle skyward and fire a couple of rounds to scare the bear away.

PNT advises against LightSquared

On Friday, Ashton B. Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense and John D. Porcari, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, issued a letter to Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.

The two men are co-chairman of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee. This is the organization that was charged by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with investigating the interference question surrounding LightSquared’s proposed terrestrial based wireless broadband network and the nationwide Global Positioning System (GPS).

The letter reads in part, “It is the unanimous decision of the test findings by the National Space-Based PNT EXCOM Agencies that both LightSquared’s original and modified plans for its proposed mobile network would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers. Additionally, an analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded that the LightSquared proposals are not compatible with several GPS-dependent aircraft safety-of-flight systems. There appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time.”

NTIA is conducting its own analysis, and the decision of the PNT EXCOM is not binding on the FCC. NTIA said the panel’s decision will help inform them as they make their final recommendation to the FCC.

LightSquared Complains of Conflict of Interest

In its continuing disregard for public safety, LightSquared filed a complaint with the NASA Investigator General’s office regarding conflicts of interest on the PNT Advisory Board last Wednesday.

In its complaint LightSquared claims that Dr. Brad Parkinson, who sits on the Board of Directors of Trimble and was the original program director (1972) and chief architect of the global positioning system (“GPS”), has a conflict of interest in his position as the Vice-Chairman of the PNT advisory board. PNT is the organization charged with testing LightSquared’s equipment for interference with Global Positioning System equipment.

LightSquared does not deny that interference exists, but blames the interference on GPS systems, which were in place long before LightSquared developed its LTE system in a neighboring frequency range. Since GPS frequencies are not the same, but adjacent to LightSquared’s spectrum, LightSquared management maintains that GPS manufacturers should fix the problem.

The company is running out of time. Sprint Nextel has a 15 year, $9 billion dollar network hosting deal with LightSquared predicated on FCC approval of the LTE equipment. The deal, which expired at the end of December, was extended until January 31st by Sprint. LightSquared is running out of options to win approval for its system, and has threatened to resort to litigation.

LightSquared Interference Confirmed Again

In a statement released yesterday, the governmental group which reviewed LightSquared’s test results, the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT), found that “Preliminary analysis of the test findings found no significant interference with cellular phones. However, the testing did show that LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to the majority of other tested general purpose GPS receivers. Separate analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration also found interference with a flight safety system designed to warn pilots of approaching terrain.”

The final analysis will be completed over the next several weeks, and PNT will issue a report to the FCC.

Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (HR1540 Sec. 911) passed through the House of Representatives last night, contains language restricting the FCC from granting final approval to LightSquared for its broadband system until the GPS issue is resolved. Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, proposed the language in the Act. It reads in part;

“(1) CONTINUATION OF CONDITIONS UNTIL INTERFERENCE ADDRESSED.—The Federal Communications Commission shall not lift the conditions imposed on commercial terrestrial operations in the Order and Authorization adopted on January 26, 2011 (DA 11–133), or otherwise permit such operations, until the Commission has resolved concerns of widespread harmful interference by such commercial terrestrial operations to covered GPS devices.”

In a statement issued by LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja he said, “We are pleased that the statement issued by the National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee, chaired by the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation, validates LightSquared’s compatibility with the nation’s 300 million cellular phones. While we are eager to continue to work with the FAA on addressing the one remaining issue regarding terrain avoidance systems, we profoundly disagree with the conclusions drawn with respect to general navigation devices.”

He also said, “The testing further confirmed that the interference issues are not caused by LightSquared’s spectrum, but by GPS devices looking into spectrum that is licensed to LightSquared. We have taken extraordinary measures–and at extraordinary expense–to solve a problem that is not of our making. We continue to believe that LightSquared and GPS can co-exist.”

Given the fact that GPS existed long before LightSquared was issued the spectrum, and there are millions of existing receivers, it seems unlikely that the FCC, Congress and the Defense Department will take the same stance.

There will be another round of testing in January.


 

LightSquared's Own Test Proves Interference with Precision GPS Receivers

High-speed mobile broadband hopeful, LightSquared released a video yesterday that proves, in fact, that their equipment does interfere with high precision GPS receivers. In the video, LightSquared shows off a work-around alternate GPS antenna which does appear to filter out the interference.

The alternative antenna begs the question, however, who would pay to retro-fit the millions of existing receivers. Moreover, why should owners of existing GPS equipment be expected to retro-fit or replace their equipment in order to benefit a company that stands to make billions of dollars from using radio spectrum which was never intended for terrestrial use, and for which the company paid nothing?

As of this writing, full results of the independent testing by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration which were expected today, have yet to be released.