Two US Representatives have tabled an amendment which will stop box 'o frogs wireless plan LightSquared from ever building its network, at least until it can prove a negative. The amendment requires LightSquared to prove that its planned pan-USA LTE network won't interfere with GPS systems, before the FCC can spend any money …
I wonder just what other business will be impacted by the planned LightSquared network and I also wonder how much LightSquared didn't contribute on Capitol Hill :)
LightSquared has consistently, since the new management came on board, misrepresented its plans. The original proposal in 2003 was for a satellite-based system with a few land-based low power towers, using power levels that were on the order of those used by NavStar, Galileo and Glonass GPS satellites. Only last November did they formally propose to to the FCC that they change their operating mode to a land-based system with very high power levels. The initial tests showed significant interference to precision satellite navigation equipment and also revealed that the LightSquared towers that were used in those tests weren't even using the full power or frequency range that LightSquared now wants to deploy. For more: http://www.gpsworld.com/
There's a bigger story here
It is the high-precision GPS that will be hammered, primary users are agriculture and surveying. This is not good, and there's more to this than is included in most news reports, even tech-oriented reports. Many high-precision GPS receivers use satellite-based correction services that also occupy adjacent frequency bands, and so the receivers' antennae are designed to work on both, with the LightSquared stuff whacking all of it.
LightSquared's proposal will likely have little effect on consumer-level GPS, but will seriously harm commercial high-precision GPS systems used for real work. The value of that work far outweighs the the apparent small size if you simply compare the number of high-precision receivers to the rest of them (reportedly it is "merely" 0.5%).
As for the politics, kindly note that George Soros is a significant LightSquared backer. Mr. Soros is also a big backer of president 0, who appointed Julius Genachowski, current chairman of the FCC and a LightSquared proponent.
What a surprise!
US politicians using misleading hyperbole to table amendments which protect large incumbent industries (also known as "campaign finance providers")?
The only way they could be more obvious about their fully-paid-for status would be to start wearing clothing with their sponsors' logos plastered all over.
Proving a negative...
It really doesn't seem like such an unreasonable request, considering the consequences if it did cause problems.
The only unresolved question is: over what distance would blockage be considered acceptable with respect to wiping-out the front end of existing GPS kits? And even that mystery item could be based on existing impacts from other sources. If existing GPS kit can be blocked 50m from a cell tower, then LightSquared can have a similar 50m exclusion zone too. It's far from rocket science.
All you need to run the test is a box of GPS gadgets and one LightSquared tower erected in the field somewhere. Plus another source of LightSquared's choosing to provide the comparison.
They've been testing for interference
There's a series of tests being run, which LightSquared is a party to. And LightSquared's test tower is interfering with precision GPS systems over ranges of miles, not yards. That's interfering with as in "rendering completely useless", not as in "causing a couple of meters inaccuracy". And these results are why LightSquared's under attack. Currently there are no other systems of comparable power output anywhere near the frequencies used by GPS (be it NavStar, the US system, Glonass, the Russian system, or Galileo, the European system).
series of tests being run
@Jon Bar: There's a series of tests being run, which LightSquared is a party to. And LightSquared's test tower is interfering with precision GPS systems over ranges of miles, not yards.
Do you have any citations or pointers to articles detailing such tests?
Re: series of tests being run
The results of those tests are to be published next week: July 1, though it's safe to assume that the interim results have already pushed LightSquared into moving away from the GPS band.
The results were delayed two weeks (at LightSquared's request) which gave LightSquared time to announce the shift in frequency.
They should make interesting reading when published.
You can find a number of links to articles and webinars on the LightSquared tests at GPSWorld, http://www.gpsworld.com. I posted the link earlier. The webinars can be accessed at: http://www.gpsworld.com/webinar
Here a link to the actual tests ...
Proving a negative
"unless it can prove a negative?" Nice bit of sophistry there, El Reg. The impossibility of "proving a negative" refers to the challenge of proving that something didn't happen, doesn't exist, or never will exist, despite one's limited ability to know. It doesn't refer to proving, analytically and experimentally, that a phenomenon like interference is impossible.
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