The controversial plan for a wireless broadband/satellite network that could have disrupted GPS use may finally be a dead deal.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) determined this week that the LightSquared plan to build a nationwide 4G broadband network will indeed impact “both general/personal navigation and certified aviation GPS receivers.” NTIA said the latest round of testing showed there is “no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time.”
As a result, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is revoking the conditional waiver which was granted last year and required LightSquared prove the interference problems could be fixed before moving forward.
The Coalition to Save Our GPS is pleased with the move. “The FCC has acted appropriately by declaring that its non-interference condition has not been satisfied and that LightSquared will not be permitted to move forward with its proposal to build a nationwide high-powered terrestrial network in the mobile satellite band,” says a coalition statement. “The Coalition stands ready to work with the NTIA and the FCC to address the important policy issues relating to longer term use of satellite spectrum and reduction of potential interference to maximize the efficient use of all satellite spectrum.“
The coalition is made up of a wide variety of industries and companies – from agriculture and airlines to contracting and transportation. Agricultural interests involved include Ag Leader Technology, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, GROWMARK, John Deere, National Agricultural Aviation Association and New Holland, among others.
The National Corn Growers Association has been monitoring this issue closely on behalf of its farmer members who rely on GPS technology for crop production.
“The announcement is a welcome one for our organization,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer said. “Expanded internet access is important to our members but not when it compromises the use of high-precision GPS equipment.”
Despite the ruling, LightSquared officials remain committed to finding a solution to interference problems. “This was not a decision based on science or technology but was a politically motivated decision fueled by special interest groups in the GPS and telecom industry,” said LightSquared backer Philip Falcone in a statement. “There are solutions to this problem that can and will address the needs of the GPS community.”