Point of Beginning

Coalition Warns FCC Decision Could Harm Economy, Exports

April 12, 2011

As the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology begins its in-depth examination of spectrum issues, the Coalition to Save Our GPS submitted a detailed statement warning that a recent FCC decision that may disrupt the Global Positioning System (GPS) could have the unintended consequence of giving the Chinese, Russians, and Europeans competitive and economic advantage over the United States.

The threat stems from a recent highly unusual decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant a conditional waiver allowing the dramatic expansion of terrestrial use of the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of GPS, potentially causing severe interference to millions of GPS receivers. The conditional waiver was granted to a company called LightSquared. For more information, including safeguards the Coalition recommends the FCC adopt, please see the Coalition’s site, www.saveourgps.com.

A portion of the Coalition’s statement follows:

“The Global Positioning System has stimulated a multi-billion dollar global industry that contributes both to the domestic economy and to U.S. exports. However, the Chinese, Russians, and Europeans are all developing their own GPS systems. If the rest of the world concludes that the U.S. system is compromised by interference, those other powers are ready to step forward to assume global leadership in this critical and highly sensitive area.

“LightSquared's proposal to build 40,000 terrestrial base stations operating at 1 billion times the power levels of GPS signals as received on Earth represents a tectonic change in the use of the L- Band. While the GPS community supports efforts to add new broadband competition and free up spectrum for mobile uses, this must be done in the context of rational, long term spectrum planning, rather than the rushed, ad hoc waiver process followed by the FCC to date. Spectrum is a public asset and it should not lightly be handed over at the behest of a private party. More fundamentally, the laws of physics cannot be waived by the FCC. The placement of LightSquared’s high-powered ground-based network in the middle of a satellite band full of weak and distant signals is a recipe for massive interference.”