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GPS Rallies Raise Awareness of LightSquared Interference

September 21, 2011

A group of surveyors and other end users of high-precision GPS technology will hold a rally on Sept. 22 in Seattle to raise awareness regarding the damage that could be inflicted by interference if the FCC approves the proposed LightSquared broadband wireless transmission plan. The “Protect GPS Rally” will take place in front of the Jackson Federal Building and will begin at 8:30 A.M. Similar rallies are being organized in other cities. “No one is opposed to enhanced broadband access; it is seen as an assured boost to the economy,” said Gavin Schrock, a surveyor and GIS analyst at Seattle Public Utilities and the rally organizer. “But in the view of many GPS users, this particular broadband proposal has serious flaws.”

Schrock said the response to the rallies has been overwhelming. “I’ve been barraged about it, including by folks from federal agencies, PNT [the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing], state departments and others. I’ve received well wishes from around the world. Everyone is happy to see someone taking action.”

Schrock said the Seattle rally will focus purely on technological issues-the impact of interference on everyone who relies on GPS, the cost to the economy as a whole, and the cost of lost jobs if GPS is compromised. He isn’t certain how many people will show up for the rallies, but he’s unconcerned. “Regardless of the turnout, I think we have exceeded our goal of raising awareness,” he said.

Although the recent testimony of General William Shelton, Air Force Space Command, and others before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces was a significant blow to the proposed broadband network, Schrock cautioned against apathy. "We are not out of the woods yet; there's too much money at stake," he said. "It's imperative that we continue to voice our concerns."

For more information about the rallies, including tips on organizing and publicizing future events, visit www.wss-acsm.com/event/GPS_Support_Rally.pdf.