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Satellite service found interfering with GPS

January 20, 2012, 10:02 am

Federal aviation regulators recently conducted a second test on the mobile internet service LightSquared, which confirmed previous reports that the service interferes with military and aviation operations. The network creates problems with key global position system technology used to steer planes and operate military equipment.

The Washington Post reported LightSquared would like to make changes to its current network service to prevent the problems from occurring, but government officials seem to think the technology is not fixable. Ashton Carter, deputy secretary of defense, and John Porcari, deputy secretary of transportation, said the company will not be able to gain license approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch its satellite network and broadband service based on the results of the testing.

In 2011, The FCC granted LightSquared an initial waiver to fast-track its business plans to launch the network. However, Republican lawmakers are investigating the FCC for this decision, deeming the technology could cause safety hazards to the aviation industry, the source reported. Another way to protect from hazards associated with flying is investing in pilot insurance.

According to Sci-Tech Today, LightSquared is filing a complaint with the NASA inspector general regarding members of the panel that conducted the testing on the network's safety. LightSquared believes the panel was filled with officials that have ties with GPS manufacturers that supply equipment to farmers, public safety officials, military and government officials. LightSquared believes the panel did not adequately investigate the impact of filtering technology on interference, which can alter the precision of GPS devices. The company is calling for the FCC to retake control of the technology's testing with a panel of new experts.

The source reported LightSquared has rights to use a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum close to the section used by GPS technology. LightSquared is marketing the broadband network as a wholesale alternative to current broadband networks that could bring internet connection to underserved communities at an affordable price. The company would develop thousands of ground stations to receive the satellite signals and monitor the network's performance.

It wasn't until about a year ago that the GPS industry realized LightSquared's network could produce widespread interference with the technology including first responders, agriculture, military and aviation. The discovery of the possible interference prompted a coalition of business and other interest groups to oppose LightSquared's initiative. These opposers were very supportive of initial test results, which found LightSquared's technology to be a hazard to GPS-based activities, the source reported.

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