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  #1  
Old 06-10-2011
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Unhappy GPS: going the way of the dodo?

Thanks to the FCC, the GPS system we all know and love may not work well (if at all) in the near future:

A new study presented to the FAA last week is adding fuel to the debate over the proposed expansion of broadband communications by a company called LightSquared, a plan that has drawn extensive concern from the aviation community about potential interference with GPS reception.

The study, conducted by the non-profit RTCA, confirmed what many critics have warned for months: LightSquared’s plan to make broadband transmissions on a frequency band adjacent to that used by GPS will cause significant interference with GPS reception.

After testing and reviewing the performance of four aircraft GPS receivers, members of a RTCA Special Committee concluded that, “the current LightSquared terrestrial authorization would be incompatible with the current aviation use of GPS.”

The authors of the report maintained that LightSquared’s plan would not only cause widespread disruption of GPS-based operations throughout the United States, but would completely wipe out reception in some areas. “Given the situation in the high altitude U.S. East Coast scenario, GPS-based operations will likely be unavailable over a whole region at any normal aircraft altitude,” the report said.

The study also implied that LightSquared’s plan would probably cause even greater interference with non-aviation receivers, since they lack the six-decibel safety cushion employed in receivers used for aviation purposes.

“From an aviation perspective, LightSquared upper channel operation should not be allowed,” the authors recommended. While they said certain changes could allow LightSquared’s system and GPS to co-exist, they maintained further research is necessary to determine appropriate frequency limits.

The FAA requested the RTCA study after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted LightSquared a waiver to install up to 40,000 ground stations throughout the United States earlier this year. The move sparked the formation of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, as well as a letter to the FCC signed by 33 senators urging the commission to withdraw the waiver. The FCC has responded that it will allow LightSquared's plan to move ahead only if the GPS interference issues are addressed.

SOURCE: New Report Intensifies LightSquared vs. GPS Fight | Flying Magazine | The World’s Most Widely Read Aviation Magazine
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Old 06-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiltmadoc View Post
...........The FCC has responded that it will allow LightSquared's plan to move ahead only if the GPS interference issues are addressed........
This is a mess, thanks strictly to the FCC, but I would not write gps off to the dustbin. Think about all the auto, aviation, marine, surveyor, etc industries that are pushing back. That's where this comment was pressured.
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The FCC, much like the FDA and the rest of the government alphabet soup of U.S. regulatory agencies, is really no longer interested so much in regulating in a manner that best suits the public as it is in figuring out new and inventive ways to collect revenues from people who are willing to pay massive amounts of money to the government for the use of a resource. The EPA and Ethanol are a recent example of yet another U.S. government "regulatory" agency that is blatantly for hire to the highest bidder.

Thanks for the heads up, Kiltmadoc. I'll look into this. If it's as bad as suggested in what you posted, it needs to be broadcast far and wide.

Jim

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Old 06-10-2011
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Jim,

This has been broadcast far and wide in many circles. I share you distain over the inept governement, but its a bit hard to make the specific case for the highest bidder if you haven't even looked into it yet.

Lobbying can and does drive corrupt results. The other problem is that we've built a system that is so large and complex that it can be easily backed into a corner given its own rules. When those issues are found, we write more rules. Then we find those new rules conflict with something we hadn't thought of and negated a rule we wrote 10 years ago. Now that has to be replugged with more rules. It has become inhuman to keep track of it and from there the viral bureaucracy is born.
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Old 06-10-2011
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This is a real concern. If you are interested PLEASE go to Save Our GPS for more information. I joined (free) so that I can get the emails. I have also used their press releases to make my legislators aware. That is part of the problem, very few people are aware.
Lightsquared has HUGE $$$ in their piggy bank. And they have been moving ahead full steam with signed contracts (Best Buy & Sprint) to go live - despite the fact that the FCC approval is tentative at this point with conditions attached to clarify this danger.
In my area Lightsquared has been running full page ads each day for the past two weeks to build their case to the cell phone users.
The goal to get cell service everywhere is fine but not at the cost of vital GPS.
Additionally - every quote I have seen from Lightsquared on this matter they have said something to the effect of "we will work closely with the GPS industry to be sure that THEY (GPS users) have the proper filters." HUH? The the heck does that mean? I am very concerned that this will get slammed through and then older GPS models (as in ones purchased today) will not work or need some expensive filter - if that is even possible.
Originally I contacted BoatUS to see what their legislative group was doing. They were aware and had sent a letter to the FCC. But then so did the defense dept prior to the decision and the FCC STILL gave tentative approval to Lightsquared!
I urge everyone to become educated on this and then reach out to your legislators. Talk to everyone. This even affects EMT services. It is my understanding the police, fire and such sometimes use GPS to locate your burning house. Save Our GPS has a study that an EMT group in New Mexico (I think) did. Results were scary GPS showing interference when in proximity to one of these Lightsquared towers. But read it yourself - that is my take on it.
Mary Henley at Save Our GPS is the person I have been emailing with. I am just one person but she has been great to communicate with me and answer questions I have.
Also do your own research on Lightsquared. Interesting company to say the least.
**If someone can tell me how to add a link or attachment to a posting, I can share the latest press release from Save Our GPS.
Get educated on this.
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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Jim,

This has been broadcast far and wide in many circles.
Lessee... I've been a member of three sailing-specific forums, one powerboat-specific forum and one local area boating forum for several years, plus joined another three sailing-specific forums over the last two-three months, and this is the first I've heard of it.

I'm reminded of a scene out of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Mr. Prosser is the supervisor of a crew that's about to demolish Arthur Dent's home to make way for a bypass. Arthur became aware of the immediacy of their plans when he looked out a window and saw the wrecking crew approaching his home:
Quote:
MISTER PROSSER: But Mister Dent the plans have been available in the planning office for the last nine months!

ARTHUR DENT: Yes! I went round to find them yesterday afternoon. You’d hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to pull much attention to them have you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.

MISTER PROSSER: The plans were on display.

ARTHUR DENT: Ah! And how many members of the public are in the habit of casually dropping around the local planning office of an evening?

MISTER PROSSER: Er - ah!

ARTHUR DENT: It’s not exactly a noted social venue is it? And even if you had popped in on the off chance that some raving bureaucrat wanted to knock your house down, the plans weren’t immediately obvious to the eye were they?

MISTER PROSSER: That depends where you were looking.

ARTHUR DENT: I eventually had to go down to the cellar!

MISTER PROSSER: That’s the display department.

ARTHUR DENT: With a torch!

MISTER PROSSER: The lights, had… probably gone.

ARTHUR DENT: So had the stairs!

MISTER PROSSER: Well you found the notice didn’t you?

ARTHUR DENT: Yes. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”. Ever thought of going into advertising?
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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I share you distain over the inept governement, but its a bit hard to make the specific case for the highest bidder if you haven't even looked into it yet.
I have yet to have made any case at all (save the general case of government ineptitude and corruptness, which is pretty much self-evident). But, given what I've seen out of U.S. government agencies these last few years (pick one--any one), I've little doubt as to what I'll find if I spend the time digging.

Jim
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Old 06-10-2011
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It is my understanding that the GPS companies overran their frequency into neighboring frequencies. Which is the area that has been granted to Lightsquared.

FCC is the problem here and not all federal agencies are inept. Our Military, Judiciary and some others serve a great purpose for our country and life here would be very different without them.
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Old 06-10-2011
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loss of sleep

Oh my God! I may never sleep again worrying about this!


NOT!

Our government can be stupid at times but not when there are so many factions against making a stupid move.
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Old 06-10-2011
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It's not so much the US Federal agencies that are out and out stupid, it's some of the people that are in them. Military and Judicial are no exception. The problem is that there just seems to be a larger percentage of ineptitude in US Gov Agenceis than there are anywhere else. Probably due in part to the fact that no matter how huge a screw up you are it's almost impossible to get the morons fired. This thing with the GPS is a perfect example. Most beaureacrats have such a terrible case of tunnel vision that they are incapable of even comprehending anything outside their immediate realm.

I'm so old I remember when the goverment actually cared what the citizens thought.
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Old 06-10-2011
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As alluded to in some of the posts, does anyone really think that the military, aviation and shipping industries are going to let this happen? If it was only us private, rich yachtsmen, maybe but GPS is way too entrenched for a private companies interests being allowed to screw it up.
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