A really troubling report surfaced from RTCA (Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics). According to this report, a next generation broadband communication system provided by LightSquared and intended to bring Internet access to virtually all Americans through a system consisting of 40,000 ground transmitters working with a seven-story orbiting satellite and projected to cost around 14 billion dollars will severely impact a GPS system projected to be used by the airlines. What is even worse, the new LightSquared communication system might also impact the GPS systems used in cars, boats and motorcycles (so pretty much everything we are using right now) due to its operating frequency very near to the one already used by the GPS system.
In their report, RTCA concludes that the deployment of the LightSquared system will result in a “complete loss of GPS receiver function” due to radio interference. After the report was published, Jeff Carlisle, executive vice president of LightSquared mentioned that they have an obligation to respect the current laws by using their allocated spectrum responsibly so we would expect to perform their own tests and changing the frequency used if the impact over the GPS systems is actually proved. According to Washington Post, the broadband communication system used by LightSquared operates in the L band at 1559 megahertz which is where LightSquared’s authorized bandwidth ends and the GPS band begins. Not every GPS systems is susceptible of interference but we can’t imagine that you would be really happy when your GPS instead of guiding you to the nearest ATM will guide you toward a lake or even worse, a bad neighborhood.
via Washington Post