GPS Signal Faces Threat From New Cell Signal

June 20, 2011 05:09 AM

Earlier this spring, when radio frequency signals got crossed, a dust up in the technology industry still has not settled.

A Virginia-based company named LightSquared is trying to build a national 4G broadband network to improve cell phone service. But many in the GPS industry (ranging from consumer navigation company Garmin to agricultural manufacturers including CNH, John Deere and Trimble), are worried that when installed the high-powered signals from as many as 40,000 LightSquared transmitters could disrupt the signal of satellite receivers designed to pick up relatively weak signals.
The part of the frequency spectrum LightSquared plans to use is adjacent to the part of the spectrum used by GPS devices. (you can see the map here)
LightSquared started to build the system in January with permission from the FCC, but the agency said the network could not be turned on until GPS interference problems are resolved. The company was required to establish a technical working group including GPS equipment makers and GPS users, and this working group tested LightSquared equipment in Las Vegas in May. The findings of the testing process were originally scheduled to be reported this past Wednesday. However, the federal regulators have granted a two-week extension until July 1.
Meanwhile, the GPS industry has formed the Coalition to Save Our GPS, and its members include CNH, Hemisphere GPS, John Deere, OmniSTAR, Reinke, Topcon, Trimble, The Agricultural Retailers Association and more. Click here to visit their site.

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