GPS Interference Worry over LightSquared Satellites

The U.S. Departments of Defense, Transportation, Commerce and Homeland Security, as well as the civil GPS Industry Council have filed objections with the FCC over a new satellite-enabled cellular broadband service from LightSquared. According to the numerous objections, the company’s two satellites will transmit in the L-Band spectrum, close enough to the GPS spectrum to cause “significant interference concerns” with GPS signals. LightSquared launched its first satellite, Sky Terra 1, on November 14, and at 72 feet in diameter it has the biggest commercial antenna in space. When Sky Terra 2 is launched next year, the two satellites will beam down 4G broadband data to a nationwide network of 40,000 cellular base stations to ensure connectivity to 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015, with the aim of reaching 100 percent a few years later. The FCC has responded with the requirement that LightSquared may not start operations before an independent expert panel has agreed, over the next three months, that no risk of interference to GPS or other aviation or marine satellite services exists.

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