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The American GPS controversy

Have
you heard about the dust up south the border concerning GPS?

The
U.S. FCC has given conditional approval for a company called
LightSquared to begin establishing a 4G wireless broadband network in
that country. Reportedly, the company plans to use a satellite
combined with a network of 40,000 ground transmitters to provide
service.

The

problem is, some people claim the powerful L-band signal it intends
to use can interfere with established, weaker GPS signals. The number
of people and organizations lining up to register their objections is
long and growing. So far, they include farm machinery manufacturers
and various aviation groups, to name only a few.

The
question is will this affect Canada? To find out I contacted Industry
Canada, the agency that regulates such things, and asked.

A
spokesman said we have nothing to worry about, here. He sent me an
email explaining exactly what is going on and where things stand. The
best way to pass his explanation along is just let you read
that message for yourself. Here is what he said:

“As
you may know, the L-band spectrum in question is currently being used
by several satellite companies (e.g. Inmarsat, Lightsquared) around

the world to offer mobile satellite services. It is not overlapping,
but adjacent to the GPS spectrum. In Canada, Skyterra (formerly MSV
and TMI) have been using this spectrum since 1996.

“In
addition, both Canada and the US already permit the use of a ground
component to extend and enhance the satellite service to areas where
the satellite coverage is difficult by offering complementary
terrestrial services (referred to as auxiliary terrestrial component,
ATC), and the requirement to protect GPS receivers from ATC was
addressed at that time. However, Lightsquared wants to deploy its US
ATC services in a different manner than what is permitted under the
current rules, which could lead to more extensive use and deployment
of the terrestrial component than originally anticipated. The GPS
community believes that extensive use and deployment of the
terrestrial component could cause interference with the GPS signal
reception. At this stage, the US regulator (the FCC) has only
conditionally approved Lightsquared’s plans subject to the

interference concerns being resolved. To this end, the FCC asked
Lightsquared and the GPS community to work together to carry out
studies to evaluate the interference potential and report to the FCC
by June 25 this year.

“As
a result, the FCC decision does not impact Canada at this time as the
FCC has yet to make a definitive finding on whether to approve
Lightsquared’s plans. In the meantime, we are monitoring the studies
in the US and plan to carry out our own studies in case there is a
similar application in Canada in the future.”

So
that’s the scoop, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Scott

About the author

Contributor

Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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