February 27, 2012
In an email received last week, Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service, Inc. (ROFFS) sent out an alarming note about a potential threat to GPS systems as we know it. The threat came from a private company called LightSquared that had received preliminary FCC approval to offer a new cellular broadband service that could seriously, even if unintentionally, interfere with GPS signals. Read about it here and here. But in middle February, regulators from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission thankfully rejected LightSquared's service because it was proven that it does interfere with GPS navigation of cars and boats. Although it feels like Florida fishermen have dodged this bullet, consider following Dr. Mitchell Roffer's letter below.
–-Sam Hudson, Associate Editor
HELP SAVE OUR GPS: Submit Comments to the FCC by March 1
We have very important, and encouraging, news to report on the LightSquared saga. On February 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Public Notice proposing that it:
1) Withdraw the January 2011 waiver that allowed LightSquared to proceed with its planned wireless network; and
2) Modify LightSquared's satellite license to prohibit LightSquared from building any ground-based wireless network.
This FCC decision was brought about, in large part, by two additional interference studies released by the Federal government on February 14. These reports clearly demonstrate that LightSquared's network interferes with GPS and that there are no practical fixes to solve that interference.
This is a great step forward for protecting GPS from interference. But, it is not the final step.
The FCC is now seeking public comment on its two proposals, and we need your help.
We ask that you write the FCC applauding it for making the two proposals contained in the Public Notice, which if adopted would prohibit LightSquared from buildings its wireless network, and strongly urging the FCC to adopt both proposals. The FCC has asked for public comments by March 1. Although comments can be submitted up until the time that the FCC makes a formal decision on the matter, we urge you to write as soon as possible.
What can I do?
Everyone who cares about GPS should let the FCC know that the facts are now clear -- LightSquared cannot be allowed to move forward. In writing to the FCC, we encourage you to cover the following points in your own words:
· How you use GPS technology in your business and/or personal life.
· What would happen to your business/personal life if GPS became unavailable or unreliable.
· While more capacity for wireless broadband services is important, it should not come at the expense of GPS, which is critical to our country's economy.
· All of the engineering studies conducted, including those recently released by the government agency in charge of federal radio spectrum management, clearly show that LightSquared's proposed network causes interference and that there are no remedies to fix this interference.
· The FCC should formally adopt its proposed recommendations and deny LightSquared the authority to offer any ground-based wireless network.
How do I tell the FCC to save GPS?
The FCC has an easy-to-use portal on its website to submit feedback on the Public Notice:
(1) Click on this link for the FCC's Electronic Comments Filing System (ECFS)
(2) In the box which says "Proceeding Number," type: 11-109. It is important to include this docket number with your comments.
(3) In the designated boxes, enter (a) your name or your company's name, and (b) your mailing address/city/state/zip.
(4) In the box which says "Type in or paste your brief comments," do so. Click "Continue".
(5) A review page will load listing all of the information entered. If correct, click "Confirm." (6) If you have trouble, contact the FCC ECFS Helpdesk at 202-418-0193 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to you and your organizations, we have made tremendous strides in dealing with this very serious threat to the viability of GPS. Please bear in mind that it's not over yet, and that these comments can have a real impact on the FCC's decision-making.