Point of Beginning

Turner's Strengthened Language in NDAA Protects Military's use of GPS

May 31, 2011

Congressman Mike Turner strengthened his language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which requires the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress if he determines there is widespread interference with the military’s use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) caused by a commercial communications service. The revised language states that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shall not provide final authorization for LightSquared operations until Defense Department concerns about GPS interference have been resolved. Turner, the House Armed Services Subcommittee Chairman on Strategic Forces, has legislative jurisdiction over space and satellite systems. Passage by the full House today sends the bill to the Senate for their action.

“Our military is heavily reliant on an uninterrupted GPS capability to do their jobs. The risk to our forces of the widespread denial of GPS was too great and required action. I am glad that my amendment ensuring that the Department of Defense’s concerns are addressed before LightSquared moves ahead passed overwhelming in the House today,” said Turner.

In January 2011, the FCC granted a conditional waiver to a single commercial communications company, called LightSquared, to build tens of thousands of ground stations that may cause widespread interference to neighboring GPS signals. The Commander of Air Force Space Command, General William Shelton, told Turner in March 2011 that, based on analysis he had seen to-date, “that virtually every GPS receiver out there would be affected.”

Turner further stated, “It is unacceptable for our armed forces to be put at greater risk or made less effective as a result of LightSquared’s operations. Congress and the Defense Department must have assurances from the FCC and this Administration that it will fully resolve the harmful interference issue prior to granting LightSquared final authorization to provide service. Our troops are depending on our government, and the FCC, to do the right thing.”