The National Space-Based PNT Advisory Board (Positioning, Navigation, and Timing), which advises and coordinate federal agencies on GPS matters, has declared that that there is “no practical solutions or mitigations” that would allow LightSquared and GPS to peacefully co-exist (pdf).
The work was done at the request of the NTIA and the FCC, which gave LightSquared a conditional approval to launch the new network one year ago, pending proof that it could co-exist with GPS.
The PNT Executive Committee letter (pdf), sent to the NTIA Administrator, asked that the high precision testing be put on hold, because “there appears to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS”.
LightSquared, in a news release, said those test results reflect “bias and inappropriate collusion” because the PNT committee included non-government employees with ties to the GPS industry. The company earlier this week filed a complaint with NASA Investigator General’s office over the involvement of Dr. Brad Parkinson, a director of GPS equipment manufacturer Trimble, on the PNT Advisory Board.
Trimble, based in Sunnyvale, California, is part of a group formed last March called the Coalition to Save Our GPS, which argued that LightSquared’s network will cause harmful interference to GPS receivers.
The findings of the Space-Based PNT Advisory Board don’t doom LightSquared, but it does appear to make FCC approval of Lightsquared’s dream of a combined ground/satellite communications network much more unlikely.
In June LightSquared proposed utilizing only a 10 MHz swath of L-band spectrum, in the lower portion of the company’s spectrum assets, to avoid interference. The company then proposed several antenna solutions that high-precision GPS users could implement at their own expense to resolve issues.
In addition to the FCC’s monitoring the situation, the NTIA requested an interference test. According to the NTIA draft summary, some 75 percent of the GPS devices tested had experienced interference from LightSquared’s 4G network.
LightSquared officials have said the start-up has enough cash to operate until after an FCC ruling, though the company will need to find an additional $3.5 billion to be cash-flow positive over the next two years.
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