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BoatUS and Spectrum policy expert disagree over GPS threat

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 27 Feb 2012
Spectrum policy .. .
While Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) say that boaters view the FCC's move on February 14 to revoke approval of a new broadband telephone network shown to interfere with the country's sole navigational system as positive news, they also say that US boaters 'aren't out of the woods just yet.'

It is urging boat owners to continue to submit comments to the FCC by a Thursday, March 1 deadline to ensure the nation's system of global positioning devices keeps boaters safely on course.

However, Dr Michael Marcus, respected Spectrum consultant, (see previous http://www.sail-world.com/CruisingAus/LightSquared-and-the-USAs-GPS-system---is-the-alarm-warranted?/93804!Sail-World_story and recent http://dl.comsoc.org/livepubs/pci/public/2012/feb/pdf/wcispectrum.pdf!article in scholarly journal IEEE Wireless Communications) has stated that Boat US is confusing the interests of US Boaters with that of well-known company Garmin, who produce GPS technology across diverse markets, including automotive, marine, fitness, outdoor recreation and aviation.

'Boaters want their GPS to work in places where they actually use them,' he said this week in reply to BoatUS's press statement. 'They are not concerned about farmers with John Deere GPS units in their tractors that have a bad design feature that make them extremely vulnerable to any cellular-like signal in a nearby band because the same receiver is used by BOTH GPS and a satellite downlink in the adjacent band.

'Boaters usually are not concerned about terrestrial GPS use within a few hundred yards/meters of base stations.'

Last summer, over 18,000 boaters along with many other GPS users wrote the FCC asking the guardian of the nation's airwaves to stop plans by LightSquared, the builder of the proposed broadband network, until independent tests proved there would be no interference with GPS devices which operate on adjacent frequencies.

LightSquared originally asked the FCC for permission to build 40,000 network ground stations across the country. Recent government reports concluded interference issues with the GPS system could not be overcome.

'Despite the great news last week that the FCC has acknowledged interference issues with the LightSquared proposal, we're not ready to declare a victory,' said BoatUS President Margaret Podlich. 'Given this company's tenacity over the last year, we want to make sure that boaters' needs are remembered as the FCC makes their final decision.'

Dr Marcus does not agree. 'The way to protect boat GPS use is to urge regulators to limit the strength of adjacent band signals, such as LightSquared, in navigable waters,' he added, 'This is not what BoatUS is doing, they are following the Garmin party line and not considering what boaters need.'

Here is how BoatUS suggests you file comments to the FCC through their online comment form:
1. Click on this link for the FCC's Electronic Comments Filing System:http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/hotdocket/list
2. Select 'Proceeding Number 11-109.'
3. Enter contact information.
4. In the box that says 'Type in or paste your brief comments,' here's some important points to select from:
• Explain how you use GPS in your life - on the water, on land or in the air.
• What would happen to your business/personal life if GPS became unavailable or unreliable?
• Wireless broadband service is important, but it should not come at the expense of GPS.
• All the studies show that LightSquared's proposed network would cause interference and that there are no remedies.
• Tell the FCC that you rely on them to protect the integrity of the GPS signal and that you support their recommendation to stop LightSquared's current proposal.
5. Click 'Continue.'
6. If the review page is correct, click 'Confirm.' Done!
If you have any trouble, you may contact the FCC ECFS Helpdesk at 202-418-0193 or email at ecfshelp@fcc.gov.

About BoatUS:
BoatUS - Boat Owners Association of The United States - is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money-saving services. For membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.

About Michael Marcus:
Michael Marcus is both a sailor and a technical spectrum policy specialist. He has a doctorate in electrical engineering from MIT, worked almost 25 years at FCC on spectrum policy issues, and was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his leadership in spectrum policy. For more information about Dr Marcus, including his complete CV, please go to www.marcus-spectrum.com!Marcus_Spectrum_Solutions_LLC
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