Coalition debunks claims by LightSquared on GPS issue

Continuing efforts by LightSquared to push for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for the spectrum to use in developing a nationwide broadband telecommunication network are resulting in repeated misstatements and rewriting of history, according to the Coalition to Save Our GPS.

Interference of the spectrum LightSquared wants to use, unless resolved, would affect the accuracy and safety of GPS in military, trucking, farming, aviation and dozens of different activities.

LightSquared’s heavy lobbying, advertising, and publicity moves are aimed at getting FCC’s rapid approval of its program, with officials often saying it is hoped the company’s plan gets approval before the end of this year. Any approval without further and complete testing could cost businesses, the military and civilian users of GPS billions of dollars and could result in what the FAA forecasts as 800 fatalities.

In 2003, the FCC granted LightSquared limited use of the spectrum, which the company now wants to own and put into operation. The spectrum had a value of about $2 billion, the satellite prices paid by LightSquared. The spectrum, now claimed by LightSquared, would have a value of at least $12 billion if the FCC grants approval, a great incentive for LightSquared to get a quick approval.

Speaking to a news conference, Brian Raymond, director of technology and domestic policy of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said approval of the broadband spectrum for LightSquared before any non-interference issues are resolved would cost the GPS community billions of dollars. Cost to U.S. defense alone would “be in the billions.” Cost to the federal government would be at least $245 billion and state and local costs are not included. NAM is a member of the coalition to save GPS.

The GPS community is working with LightSquared to resolve the interference problems and the FCC has said it will not let LightSquared move ahead with development until the problems are resolved.

People, companies, and associations in the GPS community have been working closely with LightSquared to enable development of the broadband network while not endangering GPS accuracy or safety. Hundreds of hours of work and much money have been devoted to the issue in just recent weeks. What is making resolution difficult is the political sensitivity of the issue at high levels in the federal government.


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