Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad

Alarm and anger grow as LightSquared threatens USA GPS system

by Nancy Knudsen on 31 Jan 2012
If GPS were compromised it would affect every GPS-dependent piece of equipment Garmin http://www.gme.net.au
GPS-enabled devices could be compromised if a plan to expand the United States’ broadband system goes forward, yet the company that proposes to build a broadband cell-phone communications network it calls LightSquared, 4G-LTE wireless broadband, is as yet completely undaunted by marine industry concern that the vital GPS system is under threat.

It confirmed that in late December, sending the FCC a petition asking for a declaratory ruling endorsing its right as a radio spectrum licensee to put its system in place. It is making no claim it won’t interfere with GPS; in fact, it’s saying the GPS industry has no right to ask the FCC for protection from LightSquared.

The firm needed a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission because its license was limited to low-power satellite communication and its plan calls for high-power land-based signals.

The FCC granted the waiver last January. That news was received with shock and horror by the makers and users of GPS devices and organizations that represent them, and for good reason. The LightSquared network has the potential to destroy GPS as we know it. (See http://www.sail-world.com/index_d.cfm?nid=86739!Sail-World_story from August 2011.)

That could happen because the frequencies LightSquared would operate on are next to those used by GPS. Satellites in the GPS system send signals with minuscule amounts of power. LightSquared signals would be many multiple times stronger, and could effectively make the GPS system inoperable.

The FCC acknowledged that possibility in January 2011 when it issued the waiver with a condition—it would only take effect if the LightSquared network did not interfere with GPS. However, in the latest demand for a ruling, LightSquared is apparently making no claim that their system won't interfere with the current GPS network.

In a tacit admission that its network would indeed be a threat to disable GPS, LightSquared published the video here showing how modified GPS antennae are not affected by the new LightSquared system. Watch the video below, which begs the question - who pays for replacement or modification of the thousands and thousands of GPS antennae that are out there today?



Some GPS experts in the marine industry have expressed doubts that modifications of existing GPS systems would even work, and, after the demand from LightSquared, concern is rising to anger.

In the summer of 2010 the U.S. Air Force Space Command conducted a series of tests which showed that LightSquared did indeed interfere with GPS unacceptably. LightSquared complains that these tests have been kept secret, and so can't examine or defend them. So they're angry too.

The origin of the problem was that the U.S. National Broadband Plan, mandated by Congress in early 2009, directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a plan to ensure every American has 'access to broadband capability,' especially in rural and under-served areas.

One thing is sure. The GPS system is probably the greatest innovation to hit the maritime world since the invention of the sail. It certainly needs to be protected, and cruising sailors, along with the rest of the maritime world, should not have to pay for the introduction of another, profit-making, system.

To read a technical discussion of the issues surrounding the wrangle, go to http://www.marcus-spectrum.com/Blog/files/GPS_LightSquared1.html!Spectrum_Talk.

Did you like this article? If you are not a Sail-World subscriber already, did you know that you can keep up with all the news from the world of the cruising sailor with a weekly news hit? It's totally free, as all our income is from the advertisers.

Once you subscribe, all the non-racing news comes to you in one easy to read news magazine, right to your inbox. AND it's up to date, so you don't have to wait for the end of the month to find out what's going on. You can even subscribe a friend. http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/newsletter_subscribe.cfm!Click_here_now!
Mackay BoatsBarz Optics - Kids rangeNorth Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

America's Cup - Artemis Racing launches their AC50 in Bermuda
Artemis Racing's new race yacht, “Magic Blue”, was christened today by Torbjörn Törnqvist's wife, Natalia, at a special Artemis Racing's new race yacht, “Magic Blue”, was christened today by Torbjörn Törnqvist's wife, Natalia, at a special celebration in Bermuda. The launch sees the culmination of more than three years of intense design and development work, which began almost immediately after the finish of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.
Posted on 22 Feb
Volvo Ocean Race – Pablo Arrarte joins MAPFRE as watch captain
With just 242 days to go until the start of the 2017-18 edition on October 22, preparations are already well underway. Arrarte, who raced onboard Brunel in 2014-15, will also assume the role of deputy to Olympic gold medallist Xabi Fernández, who was named as skipper on Friday.
Posted on 22 Feb
Gladwell's Line - AC50 Roll Call shows several late or absent
The AC50 unveiling/launch/sailing call-sheet has had a few additions since Land Rover BAR were the first to launch The AC50 unveiling/launch/sailing call-sheet has had a few additions since Land Rover BAR were the first to launch on February 6 - the earliest day permitted under the 28-day voluntary Blackout amendment to the Protocol governing the current event.
Posted on 21 Feb
Emirates Team NZ and Southern Spars launching into the America’s Cup
Built by Southern Spars, Emirates Team New Zealand’s newest America’s Cup yacht has been launched. Built by Southern Spars, Emirates Team New Zealand’s newest America’s Cup yacht has been launched. The Auckland-based mast builder demonstrated its standing as one of the world’s top carbon fibre manufacturers. Southern delivered Emirates Team NZ’s most technically advanced yacht ever, meeting the extremely strict budget, construction, weight and timing requirements.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ's bike team in training - Video
Emirates Team New Zealand have released a short video of four of their grinding team in training Emirates Team New Zealand have released a short video of four of their grinding team in training - including two Olympic class sailors and an Olympic Gold medalist rower.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Oracle Team USA sails AC50 for first time in Bermuda
Oracle Team USA took to the Great Sound on Monday, sailing its newly launched America's Cup Class boat, '17' Oracle Team USA took to the Great Sound on Monday, sailing its newly launched America's Cup Class boat, '17', for the first time. 'We had a successful day,' said skipper Jimmy Spithill dockside after the training session. 'First impressions were great. The boat went really well, so everyone is happy.'
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on why Emirates Team NZ went cycling
How did the potentially game-breaking development to go to cycling grinders remain a secret for so long? After the revelation that Emirates Team NZ had switched from grinders to cyclists, how did the potentially game-breaking development remain a secret for so long? 'The team started work on the project three years ago, but the actual testing started 18-24 months ago,' explained skipper and Sailing Director, Glenn Ashby. 'The team has done well to keep it under wraps for all this time.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ elaborates on the pedal-powered AC50
ETNZ's COO on the 35th America's Cup, the growth of the team, and compared the current boat and Cup to previous editions Kevin Shoebridge is now COO of Emirates Team New Zealand, working alongside his long-time friend and nemesis CEO Grant Dalton. At last Thursday's AC50 christening and launch ceremony, Shoebridge spoke to top international sailing commentator, Peter Montgomery about the 35th America's Cup campaign, the change, and growth of the team, and compared the current boat and Cup to previous editions.
Posted on 20 Feb
Spain’s Xabi Fernández to skipper MAPFRE in Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18
Xabi will return to the Volvo Ocean Race after finishing his work for Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup campaign. The 40-year-old Xabi, who has taken part in the Volvo Ocean Race four times, won Olympic gold in Athens 2004, and followed that up with a silver in 2008 – both times alongside his long-term sailing partner Iker Martínez.
Posted on 17 Feb
Volvo Ocean Race - MAPFRE name Xabi Fernández as skipper
The Basque sailor Xabi Fernández will be once again skipper of the VO65 MAPFRE in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 The Basque sailor Xabi Fernández will be once again skipper of the VO65 MAPFRE in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, a responsibility that he undertook in the last edition of the race, alongside Iker Martínez. Xabi, born in Ibarra (Basque Country, Spain) in 1976, has a lengthy professional career as an elite sportsman, and an outstanding list of achievements in all the major world sailing events.
Posted on 17 Feb