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.
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