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Two Public Safety Groups Agree with FCC Proposals to Withdraw LightSquared Waiver

March 1, 2012
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two major national public safety groups have filed comments with the FCC declaring that LightSquared’s plans would interfere with critical safety-of-life uses of GPS, and concurring with the FCC’s proposals to withdraw LightSquared’s conditional waiver and prohibit it from building its proposed ground-based wireless network.

Both the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, Inc. (APCO) and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) also said in FCC filings that their organizations oppose LightSquared’s Dec. 20, 2011 petition seeking a declaratory ruling that commercially available GPS devices would not be protected against harmful interference caused by LightSquared’s ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) operations. Referring to that LightSquared request, APCO said it “is deeply troubled by LightSquared’s approach, as it appears to contradict the assurances that LightSquared had given to APCO and others that it would address interference to GPS receivers.”

The APCO and NPSTC filings this week occurred as the Coalition to Save Our GPS submitted its comments to the FCC on the LightSquared request for a declaratory ruling, urging that the FCC deny LightSquared’s request and saying LightSquared’s petition “again misrepresents history and the nature of LightSquared’s authority.”

The APCO filing said it had been “monitoring the LightSquared deployment plan with a concern that it could interfere with public safety and other critical GPS-related operations,” pointing out that GPS is essential to emergency communications and that public safety personnel “increasingly rely” on a GPS-enabled devices to “locate vehicles, personnel, and emergency locations.” APCO cited the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) finding that it had “concluded that LightSquared’s proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services and there currently is no practical way to mitigate the potential harmful interference,” saying that, “In light of the NTIA letter and other information on the record, APCO supports the Commission’s proposed actions.”

The NPSTC filing said in its comments that “NPSTC reaffirms the necessity to protect public safety reception and use of GPS signals,” and that its “goal in this proceeding has been and continues to be straightforward – to ensure that interference does not result to public safety related use of GPS.” The NPSTC filing said, “Testing done to date confirms significant interference problems will occur under the LightSquared proposal. Accordingly, NPSTC concurs with the Commission’s proposed action to vacate the previous Waiver Order and to modify LightSquared’s license.”

The NPSTC commented that “GPS is used for wireless 911 locations, support of dispatch operations, mapping/response directions to responders, and synchronization of simulcast communications systems across the country. The nation cannot afford to risk interference that could debilitate the reception and/or accuracy of GPS signals used for public safety operations.”

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