Tech Tuesday

LightSquared 'Gift' Keeps Giving

GPS traffic to be negatively impacted by system, as warned but it's worse than you've been told (UPDATED)

NOTE: The day after I posted this blog, LightSquared announced it will be releasing a solution. No word on the cost, but you can see their complete release at the end of this post:

It's kind of hard to believe that the U.S. government would approve a new technology that, in a single move could push another established technology to the side. But that's what may still be happening with the LightSquared GPS controversy.

As we've chronicled in this blog in the past, LightSquared is a service that wants to use satellite technology paired with up to 40,000 base stations to push out high-speed Web access to more areas. Turns out, however, that the satellite band they've chosen is too close to existing, low-power, GPS signals farmers, travelers, construction companies, and the military put to a wide range of uses.

I'm writing about this because it appears there are moves afoot behind the scenes that you may, or may not, have heard of. It appears the Obama Administration may have tried to put pressure on one testifier at a recent hearing to tone down his comments about the potential impact of that LightSquared network.

We've noted in the past (Threat to GPS Draws Industry Response) that the ag and construction industry is concerned about this. In testimony last week General William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, detailed results of tests made earlier this year aimed at quantifying the potential effect of this LightSquared network.

Shelton told the House Armed Services Committee that aviation receivers operating as far as 7.5 miles from LightSquared transmitters completely lost GPS and were degraded out to distances of more than 16.5 miles. That's not the kicker, he went on to say that high precision GPS receivers (you know RTK is pretty precise) including those that are used for surveying and geological study were adversely affected out to 213 miles, and totally lost GPS at 4.8 miles.

During testimony the committee also heard from states, like New Mexico, that are concerned how this system could impact 911 service - a fact I hadn't thought of, but a lot of "auto-locate" systems are now linked to 911 service.

According to Fox News, Shelton have his testimony "despite admitting that he was pressured to change his testimony in a way that would favor a large company funded by Philip Falcone, a major Democratic donor." LightSquared CEO Sangif Ahuja called the allegations of undue political influence "ludicrous" according to the same Fox report.

Given the Solyndra scandal - the 'green' energy company that collapsed under its own weight after getting a $500 million government-guaranteed loan - the Obama Administration may be doing some proactive damage control.

From our standpoint in agriculture, the only damage control is to keep LightSquared from turning on that system until they are SURE it won't impact GPS at all. Keep the pressure on your senator and congressman/congresswoman because this can't be allowed to happen.

Sounds kind of strong, but when a system actually broadcasts at the power of LightSquared, simple "filtering" solutions will not be sufficient.

Readers no longer have to register to leave a comment, so let us know what you think. At the end of the day, lawmakers must at least know the name LightSquared so they can be aware of the issues involved.

LIGHTSQUARED PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWS - UNEDITED

 

LightSquared Announces Simple, Affordable Solution to GPS Interference Issues

RESTON, VA, September 21, 2011 – LightSquared™, a wholesale carrier building a nationwide wireless broadband network that will create consumer choice and industry innovation, has signed an agreement with Javad GNSS Inc. to develop a system that will eliminate related interference issues for high-precision GPS devices.

The Javad GNSS system can be adapted to work with high-precision GPS devices including those already in the agriculture, surveying, construction and defense industries.

Javad GNSS has completed the design, made prototypes and tested those prototypes. Preproduction units will be released for public tests in October, followed by mass production. High-precision receivers for positioning applications are expected to go to market by November 2011 and precision timing devices by March 2012.

“I have said from the beginning that this interference issue will be resolved as soon as smart engineers like Javad Ashjaee put their minds to it. With this new system, Mr. Ashjaee makes another mark for himself as a cutting edge pioneer in the precision GPS industry, a field he has helped shape for more than 30 years,” said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and chief executive officer of LightSquared.

“This breakthrough is a final step toward LightSquared’s goal of building a nationwide wireless network that will bring lower prices and better service to Americans from coast to coast.”

To develop the technology, Javad GNSS took the existing flagship receivers and reconfigured the filters and linear amplifiers to make them completely compatible with LightSquared’s bottom 10 MHz of spectrum. It was a very simple and inexpensive process and was developed in a matter of days. The additional cost for this technology is not expected to increase the selling price of the device to the customer.

“This interference problem is not a difficult one to solve, once you decide to solve it,’’ said Javad GNSS founder Javad Ashjaee. “We’ve begun manufacturing preproduction models and expect to have 25 available within two weeks – we are not talking in hypotheticals here.”’

“The truth is that high precision GPS users have a wide range of interference issues to contend with – from congested frequencies to intentional jamming. LightSquared made this problem much easier to solve by moving to spectrum farther away from the core GPS frequencies. As LightSquared’s spectrum neighbor, it’s our obligation to build a wall between our spectrum and LightSquared’s. My filter accomplishes that goal,’’ said Dr. Ashjaee. Good fences make good neighbors.’’

“The tests conducted so far by the GPS industry did not take into account the GPS modernization plan that is in place,” said Dr. Ashjaee. “Since we have demonstrated that LightSquared can certainly coexist with the current GPS satellite signals, the coexistence will be even stronger when the new GPS satellites with modern L1C, L2C and L5 un-encrypted codes are launched.”

About LightSquared

LightSquared’s mission is to revolutionize the U.S. wireless industry. With the creation of the first-ever, wholesale-only nationwide 4G-LTE network integrated with satellite coverage, LightSquared offers people the speed, value and reliability of universal connectivity, wherever they are in the United States. As a wholesale-only operator, LightSquared will deploy an open 4G wireless broadband network to be used by existing and new service providers to sell their own devices, applications and services – at a competitive cost and without retail competition from LightSquared. The deployment and operation of LightSquared’s network represent more than $14 billion of private investment over the next eight years. For more information about LightSquared, please go to www.LightSquared.com, www.facebook.com/LightSquared and www.twitter.com/LightSquared.

 

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish