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FCC Waiver Poses Serious Risk to GPS

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March 15, 2011

FCC Waiver Poses Serious Risk to GPS

By Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributor

Trimble (News - Alert), a founding member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS has revealed to a House Committee that a recent waiver given by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) could severely disrupt the Global Positioning Systems (GPS). FCC granted an unusual conditional waiver to a company named LightSquared, allowing an extraordinary expansion of terrestrial use of the satellite spectrum just next to the GPS spectrum. This poses a major risk of severe interference to millions of GPS users. Jim Kirkland, Trimble vice president and general counsel, revealed this in a testimony prepared for submission to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science of the House Appropriations Committee.

In a release, Kirkland stated that, "Initial technical analyses have shown that the distant, low-powered GPS signals would receive substantial interference from high-powered, close-proximity transmissions from a network of ground stations. The consequences of disruption to the GPS signals are far reaching, likely to affect large portions of the population and the federal government. Therefore, it is imperative that the new system not be deployed unless it can be conclusively guaranteed that the GPS users are fully protected from radio interference."

He also noted that "LightSquared's (News - Alert) 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 this band. While the GPS community lauds 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.” He said that GPS is a significant and extremely reliable part of the American infrastructure and is by used by millions across various sectors.

In related news, Trimble announced that the Baton Rouge Water Company in Louisiana has chosen Trimble Fieldport software. This selection was made in an effort to enhance its utility filed operations. The Fieldport software is an automated Geographic Information System (GIS)-based field work and asset management solution. The successful implementation of this software will enable Baton Rouge to optimize its processes for asset management, maintenance, repair operations and maintenance work planning and scheduling. 

Calvin Azuri is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Calvin’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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